Open Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Ealisaid finds a frozen corpse after the blizzard

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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Ealisaid on December 28th, 2014, 12:23 pm

23 Winter, 514

From time to time, patrons of the various places where Ealisaid had labored had remarked to her about her skin tone, musing on whether or not her heritage descended from the deserts of the hot south. Ealisaid knew better than to state the bald truth – that even her own mother had not known which of her many, many, many customers had sired her daughter – and therefore, be she part Eypharian or Benshiran or even Myrian, only the gods knew. And those deities probably didn’t care enough to have let the impregnation of yet one more impoverished Sunberthian whore make a lasting impression on their otherwise occupied minds. So the serving girl would always smile and shrug and bat her long, dark eyelashes in a playful way, replying that “it might be so,” content to leave it at that. She knew how to give just enough to create the impression that she gave a flying petch about what the customer might or might not have been thinking, without delivering herself up to their more lecherous thoughts and wishes. Leave them happy and they might leave a tip in return, was her motto. Not that that was of any use to her nowadays. Just like the brutal weather, her “job” now left her feeling like ice water ran in her veins. Whatever she did, howsoever she acted, it served only to the betterment of her master, and not herself, and that grated, horribly so. It might have made her blood boil, if the winter temperatures had allowed for such a steaming passion to manifest itself.

But whatever her ancestry, Ealisaid could easily see herself as having come from the heat of Eyktol, for the cold of the vile city she called home seeped into the very marrow of her bones. The blizzard that had just passed had been especially cruel, and for once, she’d been relieved that her duties as slave rarely took her far from the hearth of her master’s tavern, stingy as he was with fuel. What little was consumed went into the preparation of the day’s viands – whatever foul concoction could be teased from the near ruined ingredients he saw fit to buy or barter for. Though Ealisaid was no cook, she was still busy throughout the long days in close proximity to the miserly flames, and thus at least had the benefit of some modicum of its warmth. At night, she’d pushed her flea infested straw mat as close to the embers as she could get, without risk of setting it, and herself, on fire. By morning, her breath would frost before her lips, until the flames could be coaxed back into making an appearance, and her fingernail showed blue around the edges. But all the work that needed doing kept her body heat pumping, and she would be almost warm, unless she had to venture outside.

As she was required to do today.

Cursing under her breath, which showed like crystals in the dagger sharp air, she trudged down the alley, her burden awkward in her stiff, almost unfeeling hands. Her master was canny enough not to risk his bad health and weak chest by setting even one toe outside his tiny alehouse, and had sent her instead to fetch the cask of rum. It was small one, certainly. Otherwise, she’d have had need of a cart, which the miser would never have paid for. The drink wasn’t for public consumption. He’d let drop that an old friend of his was due to come by, and he’d wanted a little something special to celebrate with. Seems it was the other’s birthday, and though Ealisaid could hardly believe her master was willing to spend one copper on another soul’s happiness or comfort, still it was a fact that he sent her out into the frigid ice box of a city, to retrieve his purchase.

So with the round little barrel in her arms, she slipped and slid over the grimy packed snow of the streets. She had not far to go, now, and perhaps that was why she was inattentive. She had not meant to try to step over the mound of refuse that lay buried beneath a hoary rime, but first her foot slipped on patch of ice, and then she stumbled against something quite solid, and before she knew it, she was face down in the drift.

The shock of the cold snow against her body quite took the breath right out of her lungs. No doubt, this was what prevented her from screaming outright. For as her eyes blinked open, snow crusted on the lashes, and she pushed herself upright on her hands, she looked down and saw – a face.

Blue and grey and white, with eyes starting open, but seeing nothing. Hands crossed over a motionless chest, that would never rise nor fall again. Her fall had dislodged enough snow from the “mound” to expose it for what it truly was – a frozen corpse. Appalled, Ealisaid scrambled back, eyes wide, only to encounter yet another solid obstacle behind her, blocking her escape. She panicked, not realizing that this second barrier was in fact another being who had succumbed to the sub-freezing weather of the past week. Finally, she let out a yelp of consternation, as she struggled to rise, looking about wildly for her errant cask of rum, only to lose her footing once again on the icy surface of the alleyway, falling backwards on her arse.
Last edited by Ealisaid on December 28th, 2014, 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Lo'campo on December 28th, 2014, 2:05 pm

The streets of Sunberth weren't as bustling as they usually were doing the warmer seasons. Well it never really was a bustling city, but there was more things going on then than there were now. He found himself wondering the city once again exploring the frosted world that had been created as the snow fell. Everything looked different when covered. For him it was easy seeing that he walked the streets of Sunberth just about every day, but for someone that was new to the city would have a harder than usual time getting around this place. It was colder than usual too, the winter bringing harsh temperatures that made him appreciate his robe that kept him warm. The weight of his feet caused him to sink down into the deep snow leaving large holes as he walked. It was quite fun to do things like that. The white powder seemed to be very entertaining at times.

What was he to do, trying to decide on the activity that he would be indulging himself in for the day. He could go for a drink, but didn't want to spend the little money that he had left. He could go out into the woods to train, he chuckled a bit at the idea of training in this weather. It still left his mind blank though to what needed to be done. Taking a turn into another direction, he nodded his head to a person that passed him by huddled in a warm blanket blowing air into their hands in an attempt to stay warn. That was the first person that he'd seen since he began his journey out into the city. A depressing sight though to witness the poverty up close like that. Though a large city, Sunberth was home to the poor and humble, or the rich and crooked. Only a few were actually humble, nice and wealthy, but that didn't really change much.

It was then that the sound of what seemed to be screaming caught his ear from the distance. It was a woman, was she in trouble? It wouldn't surprise him if she had run into a group of bandits or thieves, especially in this time of any. Quickly changing his direction into the one that he had heard the wail from he moved as fast as he feet would trudge through the snow. The bottom of his clothing was wet from being dragged trough the frozen water. Thanks to the clothing that he wore under it, he barely felt the skin prickling coldness brushing across his lower shin. Finally getting to the source of the sound he saw a woman flat on her bottom atop of the ice. He had to applaud her in his mind. He didn't know too many people that would be able to sit on the icy ground as casually as she did. "Are you okay ma'am? he asked giving a quick look around to make sure that the area was clear of any threat. A figure in the snow caught his eye, at first he thought it were a block of ice before it's shape began to register in his mind. It was a person, hands around themselves, eyes open, dead. Frozen to death by the looks of it. There were others like it surrounding them. A mass grave of frozen bodies. He knelt down to the corpse using his hand to force the person's eyes shut. It was a pity that these people had to go the way that they did, but it was life. Remembering the woman on the ground he turned back to see if she needed help in any way.
Last edited by Lo'campo on December 28th, 2014, 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Shakune on December 28th, 2014, 2:07 pm

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The cold bit into Shakune copper skin as she exited her home, and the desert-dweller swore grumpily before wrapping her coat tighter around her slim frame. She had experienced the cold, of course, but nothing compared to this. People were dying of the cold, and this was something that Shakune had not known to be even possible. Travellers died in the heat of the desert, due to exhaustion or dehydration, but she'd never before heard of a person dropping dead because of the cold. It frightened her.

The last thing she wanted to do was risk her own wellbeing and health, but the responsibilities of being a dog owner had forced Shakune to step outside into the city. Her small home was little shelter from the cold, but it kept the snow and frost out, and for that Shakune was thankful. If she wrapped herself up in all the clothes and blankets she could find, she felt slightly less than freezing.

She traipsed towards the city centre, pausing every so often to turn back and observe her dog Squidgle, who entertained himself by plunging into the many piles of snow that lay on the ground. "Please hurry up." The half-breed begged mournfully before continuing her slow pace. She could hardly blame her dog for not wanting to defecate outside, not with the icy wind blasting up his arsehole, but still; house-training a dog did not waiver for any weather.

The two of them walked for approximately ten chimes, during which Shakune's quiet demands turned more frustrated and desperate as the time ticked by. She was shivering uncontrollably; snow and ice clung to her shoulders and arms. Her body was unfamiliar to this weather, and it wasn't faring well.

A faint noise further up the alleyway caught both Shakune and Squidgle's attention. The latter scurried off, stumpy legs slipping as the little Sykanis hurried to investigate whatever had made this mystery sound. Shakune followed dutifully, taking her time to pick her way through down the icy pathway. It would do her no good to slip and break her neck out here.

It was therefore the dog that found the other woman first, and he bounded up to her excitedly, as if he had previously thought his mistress was the only person left in this horrid icy world. After thoroughly licking the stranger's face and ensuring they were now best friends by sniffing her all over, Squidgle turned his attention to the mound beside her. A dead body, his nose told him. After flashing his new friend a delighted doggy smile, Squidgle set about gnawing on a frostbitten finger that protruded from under the snow.

Shakune arrived shortly after, her face flushing pinkly. Her black eyes fell to the other woman and she frowned at Squidgle. "'m sorry, did m'little shit of a dog knock you over?" Sliding clumsily towards the stranger, she extended a hand down to help the woman up onto her feet. "He's harmless, really." Her attention turned back to Squidgle, and with a slow horror Shakune realised what her faithful hound was trying to eat. "Oh, Gods!"

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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Ealisaid on December 28th, 2014, 7:09 pm

Ealisaid had only a moment to turn and realize that she had fallen on her bum next to yet a third lump in the snow. Petrified, the usually more collected tavern wench-dancer turned slave put her almost as equally frozen knuckles to her mouth, to keep from shrieking. Born and bred in Sunberth, she was typically much more immune to the tragedy of death, in its many varied forms. But this grouping was so macabre, and some of the corpses appeared to be coupled, smaller and larger, perhaps a family tableau of suffering and want. After her initial outcry, the knuckles she pressed into her mouth kept her from screaming in near hysteria, as she stared at the ghastly testament to the newcome winter.

Before she could even think to make another attempt to rise to her feet, she felt a warm tongue on her face, and startled almost out of her already goose-fleshed skin, she wrenched her head to the side. The sight of a dog was again, not an extraordinary one. But this one’s appearance had taken her by surprise, coming as it did right on the heels of her gruesome discovery of the improvised morgue. She exclaimed again, a sound more than any one word, as the animal proceeded to lick her face several times, and then sniff at her. She was too shaken to care to shoo it away, and before she made any move to do so, it moved off of its own accord, but only so far as the first body she had stumbled over. Thankfully, given her agitation, her eyes were diverted from following it, and the grisly snack it soon chose for itself, by a shadow appearing on the ground near to her. She looked up, and the one casting it was odd enough, for the whole bizarre interlude. Shining black eyes looked back at her – eyes like few others seen around this part of Mizahar, though not totally unknown to the slave. Apparently the dog belonged to the other woman, and Eailsaid shook her head in the negative, though rather numbly, as if trying to further process what was being said. “N-no. No. I – I…fell…” she stammered, looking from mistress to beast.

But as her gaze had swiveled, and once again before she fully registered what it was the doggie was up to, her startled eyes fell on yet another arrival to the alley. Again she looked up, and up, and still up, for this second newcomer was tall indeed. An Akalak, by his stature and skin tone, swathed in a warm cloak, striding quickly towards them, as his gaze swept the alley watchfully. His demeanor was fierce, yet his words, like the woman’s, were those of succor. Taking a deep breath to steady her jangled nerves, Ealisaid replied shakily, “Yes, I-I’m all right. I was just…startled.”

Her still wide eyes went again automatically to the corpse over which she had fallen the first time. The Akalak knelt to examine it, after his sweeping glance took in the other pitiful mounds that bore witness to the killing temperatures. Ealisaid watched him and as she did so, she noted for the first time what little poochie was actually gnawing on. His owner had as well, and as she exclaimed, Ealisaid put her hand to her lips again, feeling the retch in her throat that threatened to bring the scant remnants of her measly breakfast up into her mouth. The Akalak, having turned back to her might have noted her grey pallor and stricken eyes. Frantically, feeling the need to distance herself from these sorry ruins of life, she scrambled backwards and to the side, turning her head just in time, before she hurled her stomach’s contents onto a spot of still pristine snow.

For the first time, she felt too the stab of pain in her wrist, which had taken much of the weight of her second fall. She moaned, and clutched the injured joint to her breast. Gods, her master was going to have her hide if she was late getting back with his rum!
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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Lo'campo on December 30th, 2014, 7:45 am

Lo'campo gave a nod to the newcomer and the the small four legged animal that scurried around in the snow. This was quite a sight to see. He wasn't surprised to see the woman that had fallen down double over and empty her stomach of it's contents. "Lightwieght" he thought to himself grinning at the amount of vomit that was now freezing on the ground. A quick turn of his head caught the dog licking the hand of one of the frozen citizens. The least that could be done for the people would be a proper burial, or something along the lines of one. Squatting down to ground level, Lo'campo began shoving piles of snow with his large hands, slowly covering the bodies in an icy dome while he awaited the woman to recollect herself. The coldness of the snow bit at his finger tips as he made large piles of snow clearly showing that something was hidden underneath. A step back to look at his work deemed it good enough until spring, or at least until someone curious came by.

"Are you with her"? he asked the bystander, kneeling down to pet her dog. It was hard enough for the akalak to get down to the average human height let alone kneel down to the level of a small dog. The animal was energetic, happy, and friendly unlike his two beasts at home. He looked up to the woman with a smile upon his face, meeting his own eyes with hers before standing back up. "Lo'campo." he greeted the woman, extending his arm to shake her hand. The scent of vomit slowly began to enter his nostrils making his face cringe.
"I take it that you don't have a strong stomach for things like this?" he asked the woman a question he clearly knew the answer to. He was quite surprised though. A person in Sunberth that couldn't handle death. It was a first for him. It was also clear that she wasn't from around here. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it." words meant to better the situation though seemed to make it worse when he heard them leave his lips.

Deciding to stop talking, he turned to the second woman for anything to help. The coldness of the air nipped at his hands more than before do to his makeshift burials. It seemed right. They deserved to be respected in some way or form, as well as stopping people from uncovering their corpse's and vomiting all over the place. Once she had come back to from her regurgitation pale and gray, he watched her hand take hold of her wrist, a moan of pain signally that she had defiantly hurt it. "Looks like you did more than get startled." now approaching her to get a look at her wrist. It was red and looked a bit swollen. Petch if he knew, he wasn't a doctor. "You're going to need to get that checked out by the looks of it. I'm no doctor, but I can carry your barrel for you if you'd like?" he offered lifting the liquid filled keg up and over his shoulder. A smile to show that she wasn't going to change his mind at this point. Shifting it to a more comfortable position, he awaited her to lead the way.

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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Shakune on December 30th, 2014, 12:53 pm

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The half-breed smiled wryly as the other woman vomited onto the snow. She had grown used to Squidgle's questionable diet and love of anything usually deemed inedible, but clearly others were not. Fortunately, the dog had stopped gnawing on his frozen hand and was too busy investigating the hulking Akalak who was now scraping snow over the body. Squidgle jumped up hopelessly, attempting to lick the large man's face but carely reaching his shoulder. His stumpy tail jutted sideways manically. Two new friends in one day! Best day ever!

Shakune tried to call the dog over, but he ignored her completely in favour of sniffing this strange coloured giant man. The smell of other dogs lingered on the Akalak's clothes and skin, and it drove Squidgle into a sniffing frenzy. "No, I - my dog found her." Shakune replied good-naturedly, black eyes shifting from her hyperactive pet to the man in front of her. She reached out her hand to meet his. "Shakune. This is Squidgle. I apologise for his lack of manners."

Her attention turned to the other woman, and her eyed narrowed as Shakune glanced at her wrist. She also completely lacked any real medical knowledge, save for one tip: "Keep it cold with snow. Should help the swelling." It seemed rather pointless stating it now though, given the ever-plummeting temperatures. "Where are you headed?" She enquired, feeling somewhat useless and weak compared to Lo'Campo, who had now volunteered to the carry the woman's barrel. "We'll make sure you get there. Safety in numbers." She bent down sharply and snatched the dog into the cook of her arm. He licked her chin and neck delightedly, and then looked bright-eyed to his new friends. What're we playing now?
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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Ealisaid on December 30th, 2014, 11:31 pm

It was more than a bit embarrassing, to be hurling her stomach contents out in front of these two strangers, even though this was Sunberth, the armpit of the universe. Much like death, all of its residents should be well used to many varieties of vileness. But Ealisaid could still feel sorry that the two who seemed solicitous of her state of being had to witness – and smell – such. Her thoughts, though, quickly moved on to her predicament, as her slightly watery eyes watched the huge, darkly hued male scooping snow over the bodies she had so clumsily fallen over. Sneed, her master, would be soon frothing at the bit, wondering and fuming over where she was. Each passing moment would see her paying for her latches with yet another lash of his exceptionally sharp tongue – or worse. It wasn’t unknown for him to unbuckle his belt and lay on her – legs, arms, back – anywhere he could land a blow, when he was really vexed, and especially when he’d been drinking. At least this early in the day he was still sober. The means of intoxication, in fact, lay a few feet away, where it had rolled when she had stumbled and dropped it. Packing it back to the tavern was going to be that much more difficult, now that she’d managed to hurt her wrist. Chagrined, she listened to the brief exchange between the other two, catching their names, as well as that of the little dog that had licked her face so enthusiastically, before he had licked….

No, she wouldn’t think about that. She didn’t blame the little animal. Meat was probably meat to such, regardless of the shape of its vessel, or functioning of its brain. At some point, the black eyed stranger had extended her hand to the slave, and Ealisaid would have accepted her help to rise, except for the sight of the dog gnawing on frozen human flesh had distracted her, to an unfortunate end. Now, she shifted a bit, still cradling her wrist, thinking to try to stand, and hopefully not slip again on the ice, or – gods forbid – stumble over yet another corpse. She’d had quite enough of that! But after the introductions were made, the Akalak – Lo’Campo by name, it seemed – stooped again from his great height, eyeing her wrist, and observing that she had injured it. His suggestion of a doctor seeing to her was one he couldn’t know was ridiculous. There was no way Sneed would spring for even a few coppers for the lowest charlatan to tend to one of his slaves. Ealisaid shook her head at first, saying. “No, no…it’s OK. I’m OK, I don’t need a doctor, I just…”

As she spoke, she was even then scrambling to get her feet under her and at the same time eyeing the stray cask. Then in a twinkling, Lo’Campo had scooped it up – easily – its awkward weight seeming to be no more inconvenience to him than a feather. Ealisaid’s eyes widened in surprise. Offers of aid were not so commonplace in this city, and she looked at him her mouth slightly agape in amazement.

Shakune too was bending to take a look at the arm which Ealisaid held so close to her chest, suggesting snow to cool and reduce the swelling. The slave girl looked at those strange black eyes for a moment, before scooping up a handful of the powder and pressing it to her bruising flesh. “Yes, that’s a good idea,” she agreed, well used herself to calling upon simple home remedies where money for a physician was not readily available, even before she’d been enslaved.

“I must get back to the tavern, to my master,” she answered the question, matter-of-factly. Like much of this impromptu gathering – death and vomit and pain – slavery was a rather unremarkable every day part of life in this city. “He’s going to kill me if I delay any longer.” Accepting what help was then offered to get to her feet, guarding her wrist, she nodded at the Akalak. “If you would, I would be so grateful for you to carry that. He’s wanting it and I dare not leave it behind, and I fear I could not carry it now.” She moved her wrist slightly to indicate, of course, what she meant, and she winced anew.

Her gaze swiveling to Shakune, she gave the other woman a small, rueful smile. “I – that is not necessary. But…it would be appreciated. I feel such a fool.” With her good hand, she swiped her wrist roughly over her lips, recalling the unfortunate upheaval of her stomach. “I – I don’t know what came over me. I’m sure I’ve seen worse. I – I guess it was just – the unexpectedness. They…they are…” She looked at the silent sad lumps now covered from Lo’Campo’s efforts, her eyes sympathetic. “How sad,” she finished her thought, before turning to face the opening to the alley.

“It’s this way. Just a few blocks, and we’ll be there.” Looking from one to the other, she admitted with an abashed look, “I – thank you. Thank you for taking the time.”

Her legs finally feeling steady under her again, she set out with her new acquaintances, part of a strange trio who traveled the snowy streets almost alone. Anyone with any sense was staying as warm as whatever means they could afford would allow, behind closed doors and shuttered windows.
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Postby Lo'campo on December 31st, 2014, 11:18 am

"Master?" The words angering him just as quick as they had left his mouth. She was a slave, the thought putting foul images in his head that he tried not to express on his face. He had no respect for those that found pleasure in the business of slavery. He felt that it was wrong for one person to make another run to their every whim, do disgusting things towards their "masters" and the other pigs that joined in. He had helped slaves before escape from their captivity. Another thought crept into his mind. Is this why she didn't want to see a doctor? The thought of what sick minded person would make a woman walk through the snow with a barrel of ale in Sunberth of all places angered the Akalak even more. He could feel his blood boiling, tacking an icicle from a low roof top, he stuffed the cold object in his mouth hoping that it would cool him down only to no avail.

Coming to a halt in the snow, he placed the barrel down. "Why are you a slave?" He asked the woman leading the way to the tavern. "This is Sunberth, the city of the lawless. You could kill the bastard and be free and no one would care. Petch you could walk away right now if you wanted. So why?" Thi was a question he really wanted an answer to. He just didn't understand how so much fear could be put into a person to make them act as a slave. "Do you enjoy it? Calling another person master, or sir, or what ever you call him?" He could feel the urge to kill slowly crawling up his neck. Taking a deep breath he tried to calm himself down. This was none of his business anyways. He was just here to transport the barrel for the slave girl. A piece of him though wanted to see her master. Wanted her master to so much as pronounce a word incorrectly to him, then it would be his problem. For now on the other hand, he was holding her up from getting where she needed to be.

"All I'm saying is if you ever want to do anything else other than being a slave, come to the Quarter. You'd be safe there." That being said, he hoisted the barrel back up and motioned for her to lead the way. The snow melted under every step he took as his rage burned through his body. He looked to Shakune, catching the eyes of her dog who now looked at him with confusion in his eyes. "People are not pets." he whispered under his breath hopefully low enough where the others would not here him. His face had now turned into a scowl, his head now tilted down with his eyes locked onto the ground beneath him. From this point onward he was going to keep his mouth shut. No need for causing trouble.

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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Shakune on December 31st, 2014, 11:16 pm

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Shakune's eyebrows notched up half an inch in response to the word 'slave'. It was an uncomfortable label for a person to carry around with them, one that Shakune knew she had been lucky to escape. She hoped that the other woman was exaggerating when she mentioned that her master might kill her -- but stranger things were known to happen.

Her black eyes creased into an encouraging smile at the slave girl's self-depreciating words. "It is too easy to fall over in these conditions. I know I have hundreds of times." The words were not a lie -- though Shakune was far more likely to fall over due to being intoxicated than icy paths. She cast a sad look over the snowy heaps, then glanced further up the alleyway, where similar-appearing piles were also scattered. The cold had bought out the worse of city living, where the poor and desolate barely survived, and if they did die, they remained lost and unknown.

They had barely begun walking when Lo'Campo stopped sharply. Both Shakune and Squidgle watched him expectantly, with questioning dark eyes. The Akalak's questions were sharp and demanding in Shakune's view, and she frowned immediately after he starting asking them. Whilst she disagreed with slavery, Shakune disagreed with those who demanded answers from others even more. "You over estimate the opportunities available here," she stated bluntly, shifting Squidgle from one hip to the other as she explained further: "If a slave kills the person who has employed them--" she knew the words 'employed' was not completely suitable, but she did not want to falter her own argument, "-- what will they do? Take their money, perhaps, but then what, live in a tavern? What happens when a friend or the family of their master notices the dead body, the empty pockets and the absence of the slave?" She allowed the questions to linger for a tick before continuing, "Sometimes the situations we find ourselves in are not what we want, but there is little alternative."

A low whine from Squidgle stopped the half-breed from continuing, and she pursed her lips and allowed him to lick her chin affectionately. He could no doubt sense the increased tension in his mistress' voice, how her chest rose as she argued. But it struck Shakune how unfair - how hypocritical, almost - it was for she and Lo'Campo to be openly discussing the ethical problems of slavery without even considering Ealisaid. She flashed the other woman an apologetic smile and continued trudging through the snow.
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Stiff Upper Lip, Amongst Other Things

Postby Ealisaid on January 1st, 2015, 2:21 pm

Feeling a bit less of a fool with the Chaktawe’s reassuring words, Ealisaid had not taken more than three steps – three careful steps – when Lo’Campo’s question sounded, and she turned her head back to see that he had put the keg of rum down. With a little stab of regret, but with a sigh of resignation as well, her thought was that the Akalak – proud warrior of the grass seas – had no wish to be mixed up with a lowly slave, and far less desire to be toting about that slave’s burden. She understood, and would not hold it against him. His solicitude thus far had been unexpected. It was, in fact, more surprising than knowing that he held her in contempt and looked upon her as something lower than a worm, due to her bondage. Her face still fell, though, for her wrist was hurting like the dickens. Perhaps, she thought fleetingly, Shakune would not be so averse to her statuts and perhaps somehow the other woman might have the goodness to help her still.

She stood there the few seconds that Lo’Campo spoke, and his words, though something of a slap in the face to a woman born a free person and taken against her will, made sense to her, given their origin. When he paused, looking literally like a blue thundercloud had settled on his grim visage, she replied to him, trying to keep the bitterness from her tone. “It wasn’t my choice. No-one would choose this existence. I am free born, and was a hard worker, earning an honest wage, up until a year ago. You are huge – fierce – a skilled fighter no doubt, with your hands and weapons. I had a dagger. Little good it did me when I was taken by surprise….”

Ealisaid made herself stop. Her lips set together in an angry line – not anger for this man, but for those who had brought her so low. Everything she had – and that was little enough – was taken from her. The clothing she had saved for and purchased, the little stash of money so carefully hidden and guarded – saved in hopes of one day having her own business, and calling no man master – all gone. She felt a small sting of salt water under her eyelids, and she felt she had already made enough of an ass out of herself that day. She had no desire to break down and cry in front of these two, in a useless display of self-pity. So she said no more and was resolved to retrieve the cask and be on her way.

But Shakune spoke up and her words held a hard truth, one that Ealisaid was well aware of, and perhaps Lo’Campo, with his size and strength and skill, was less conscious of. Slaves did not kill their masters without repercussions, even in this lawless town. Ealisaid’s gaze had shifted to Shakune, her eyes softening a bit as she nodded in mute agreement with what the other woman said. When the Chaktawe smiled slightly, Ealisaid returned her sympathetic look with one of sad gratitude. Shakune had the right of it, and Ealisaid had far fewer options than the Akalak might think.

Yet, at the same time, Ealisaid felt that Lo’Campo’s words had not been spoken with outright hostility. He seemed more frustrated in his tone, and angry, than contemptuous. Her eyes went back to him and she spoke again, in a softer tone, as she stepped back closer to him, and the keg of rum, “If I had the means to free myself, believe me, I would, if it would not spell my own death – or worse.” For yes, certainly, there were things that the blackest of hearts could do to another person that might make death seem an unobtainable, blissful release. But as she began to stoop to try to recover her load, the Akalak beat her to it, lifting the keg easily to his shoulder again, and causing Ealisaid to straighten and look at him, quite surprised.

Come to the Quarter? Ealisaid looked askance at Lo’Campo, biting down on her lip for a moment. The Sunset Quarter was home to the lowest of the low, and by Sunberth standards, that was saying something. An orphanage on one end, greatly damaged by fire a few years back and then rebuilt, packed to the rafters, no doubt, with hungry, dirty, lice infested unwanted children, and tenement housing for the poorest of the poor on the other, it was a place she had never ventured to. True, it had a reputation for being a place of low crime – for there was literally nothing there that anyone would want to steal. Upon reflection, it did seem a place where a runaway slave could potentially hide out, at least for a while. Few people wandered there unless they lived there, and the slavers of the city, for the most part, made good coin peddling flesh and could afford far better.

In the next second, the Akalak, still looking miffed, gestured for her to lead on, and Ealisaid, after another long look at the man, turned once more and began to walk again. Shakune had paused for them, and fell into step with her, while Lo’Campo grumbled something under his breath behind them. His words and the other woman’s tumbled about in the slave’s head as they walked through the snow and frosty air. Yes, her choices were limited, severely so. But f an opportunity arose, would she have the courage to seize upon it and make her escape? Was the quarter really a place of refuge? For she was a city girl born and bred and wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving in the wilderness. Whatever deed secured her freedom, she would be forced to remain in Sunberth. Could she avoid detection, and retribution?

These ideas and faint hopes and grave doubts and tantalizing yet unlikely scenario played over and over in her mind as they trudged along, heading to the wretched tavern where she now spent her days, as a slave. It wasn’t until they were almost there, that it occurred to her how odd it might seem to show up with these two companions in tow – odd to Sneed that is. Having taken them down yet another alley, to gain access to the back entrance to the place – which was so low it had not even a name to bestow upon it some sense of legitimacy – she paused, pointing with her good hand.

“This is where I work, and live,” she said, her tone almost apologetic. “I – it would probably be best if you did not come in. My – my master – he is not a pleasant man.” That was quite the understatement! “He’ll be upset enough that I am a bit late returning. If he knows I’ve hurt myself, he’ll just be that much more angry. And – and, I’m sorry, but he’ll not offer you any thanks or reward for your kindness.” She paused and her face softened as she added, “But you have mine – the both of you. I have nothing else to give you, but you have my thanks - a hundred times over, and…and my friendship, should that ever be of any use to you.”

OOCThe thread doesn't have to end here. I can always NPC Sneed a little if you want to come inside, or I could have him poke his nose out the back door and spot everyone and start yelling. :)
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Ealisaid
Down but not defeated
 
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Joined roleplay: December 6th, 2013, 10:15 pm
Location: Sunberth
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