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(Dovy) Vel is faced with the reality of Slavery in Sunberth

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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[Drunken Fish] Unsavoury Clientele

Postby Aer'wyn Grisghul on July 19th, 2018, 8:47 am

15th of Summer 518AV

Out of the two brothers, Vel was rather comfortable in the company of scumbags and scoundrels. He had learned to speak their language, to predict a good or a bad day just by the way somebody looked at him. Unlike the good gang’s people of Sunberth, the seaside shykersters kept things simple. They were there to drink and get into a fight - as was Vel.

Much like the many bastards that came into the port on ships, Vel too was an outlander. Although his origin came from Riverfall. The ways of Sunberth, even three years on, were as foreign to him as first time he had woken up in this god forsaken shithole. And every day since, the dark brother wanted to leave. But that would do him no good now would it?

He didn’t come here for any of the more lewd services, that the Fish offered, in which the Akalak really had little interest in the first place. The beer was good enough and the atmosphere was shit enough. That’s all a man like him really needed. Sliding in though the front door really rather unceremoniously, Vel took a seat at one of the free tables by the window and kept his eyes to himself. Foot thrown up on the table, crossed. A massive bastard sword at his side. He knew that eventually one of the slaves that worked the floor would take some interest and bring him a mug of this or that as, frankly, he didn’t really want go get it himself. Old Manowar had a habit of irking him at his very core.

Few eyes watched the blue mountain as he sat there, clad in full studded armour and shrouded by a long black cloak that completely obscured his left arm - or rather what was left of it. The man clearly looked like he could take care of himself, so just stares were all thatchy were. He seemed in a bit of a mood. But then again that was just Vel. He always seemed moody.



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Postby Dovey on July 20th, 2018, 1:53 am

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Dovey emphatically did not want to serve ale to the enormous, sour-faced Akalak with the sword. Father Manowar, being perfectly conscious of her aversion, had not offered his new slave a choice.

"Lissen ta me, Dovey," the big man growled, bending over to put his face directly above the barmaid's, as she did her best to lean away from him without her efforts being noticed. The smell of ale wafted from his mouth, matched by his tipsy slurring. "Yer gonna need ta serve worse than him in yer time at the Fish. Yer gonna serve men with knives in their hands and the blood still drippin' offa the blade." He waved his own hairy hand expressively. "Now I don't say they're all like that," he continued, "but summa them are, and yer no good ta me if ya can't get near enough ta them ta make a sale."

Dovey lowered her gaze to Manowar's boots, her face blanching almost grey. If she became no good to the man who had bought her - what would be done with her then? Would it be better or worse than ending up on the wrong end of some murderer's blade?

Manowar's hand clamped onto her chin, raising her face back up so that he could look into her eyes; he paid no attention to the squeak of mingled surprise and alarm she gave at his unexpected touch. "Think a' the Akalak as practice," he said. "He's a tetchy-lookin' sort, but I wager he won't try and hurt ya. Look at his feet up - he jus' wants a drink ta nurse." He released her chin and clapped her on the back, making her hiccup as she stumbled forward. "So go ask 'im what kind!"

Her jailor's tone turned downright jovial at that last sentence, but Dovey already knew better than to take that as an indication of her safety from him - she'd seen the man change from merry to brutal in less than a tick. And however little she trusted his word, she had to admit it was unlikely that Manowar would be so careless with his investments as to send a new slave to her likely doom; so her safest option, she realized, was probably to swallow her fear and obey.

Without a word she left Manowar's side, her jaw clamped tight and her eyes on the floor as she scurried past various clusters of patrons. Occupied with their own drinks and conversations, none of them paid the timid-looking creature any mind, and so she reached the Akalak far sooner than she would have chosen, had she had the nerve to dawdle on the way.

She clasped her hands tight together to keep them from shaking, but she could do nothing for the little tremor in her voice as she stepped to his side and spoke. "Um - sir? Can I get you something to drink?"


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Postby Aer'wyn Grisghul on July 20th, 2018, 11:01 am

“Took you long enough.” Grumbled Vel. A note or two of impatience seeped from his tongue.

Just moments ago he watched to poor girl plead with her jailor to find someone else to take on the job of serving him. Anyone but her. His eyes were keen enough to notice the fear with which she approached him, the slow steps she took, the tremors in her voice. Even a blind man would see it.

Not that Vel wasn’t so very used to it. A handsome face did little to facilitate approachability when it’s been twisted by years upon years of resentment. A soft, low voice of glazed honey could never be sweet enough when coming from a mountain in full armour. Vel couldn’t blame the slave girl for her hesitation for her eyes did not underestimate him. Though he wished her no harm, he was clearly capable of splintering that alabaster throat, and one hand was enough to do so.

His shoes came off the table as Vel leaned a little closer to her, voice lowered so that neither Manowar nor the bastards at adjacent tables could hear. “What did he want?” Asked Vel, nodding slightly in the old barman’s direction. “Say, I’ve not seen you around here before. What’s your name?”

A midnight blue hand rummaged though his pocket, letting a few coins spill out onto the table. Without much hassle he pushed them towards the edge by which she stood. “Anything you got that’s not been sitting around at the bottom of a barrel for close to a decade? No, never mind. A pint of ale will do.” Before she had the chance to turn her back to the outlander however, Vel added. “And some company… your company. If the old man had a problem with that, tell him to take it up with me himself. Wi’ll make square on all the times he’d forgotten my change.”



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Postby Dovey on July 30th, 2018, 4:00 am

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Dovey flinched a little at the first words out of the warrior's mouth. Gods, he was already irritated with her - what if something were to provoke him further? What if Manowar had been wrong, and he was in a mood to hurt her?

She had to do all the right things, keep from upsetting him. So when he took his feet down and leaned toward her, she tensed but didn't move away. "My name is Dovey," she told him, her voice matching his in volume - though more from the effects of fear than from prudence. "Father Manowar wanted me to serve you a drink." She could have added that she was new, sold here only a few days prior, but her efforts were focused on appeasing the Akalak and not on making conversation with him. Like the victim of a mugging, she was giving him what he asked for and nothing further.

And if he asked for ale, then ale he would have and welcome to it - that meant she could leave him and find someone to serve who didn't loom over her even from their seat. She watched the Akalak's hand as he pushed the coins from his pocket towards her, attending conscientiously to his order although it was perfectly simple, and swept the money into her palm as soon as it reached her end of the table. But just as she was about to turn and hurry away, the man spoke again, arresting the beginning of her eager motion with his words.

Oh, gods, no.

The room seemed to tilt slightly, as if her light-headed sickness, faded only recently, were returning. But it was disgust and dread that dizzied her. He hadn't leered, but Dovey knew what men meant when they said company to frightened little slave-girls.

Please - Tyveth - Cheva, Rak'keli -

She didn't know which one she should pray to. Perhaps the Akalak only wanted kisses, groping. Only! But such things had happened to her before, on occasion; what woman hadn't crossed paths with a lecher? There was worse. Manowar had explained quite early on about the rooms on the third floor. But the old barkeep charged mizas for that - there was her hope, that if the Akalak did want such things, he would be stingier than he was lustful. Perhaps the two men would argue, and Manowar would throw the other out of the tavern. Perhaps - perhaps -

There was a cold sweat prickling on Dovey's upper lip; she hugged herself with one arm, wanting nothing more than to dart off and hide somewhere until the Akalak went away. But that would only draw his ire as well as Manowar's. Gods, why didn't the warrior leer? She didn't want him to, exactly; but it was almost disturbing, that stone face after he'd openly requested company. She didn't know what such an expression might imply.

She could fetch his ale. At least that would get her away from him for a little while.

"I'm going for your drink." She spoke as clearly as she could; perhaps she was a little more than a trifle breathless. Then she left his side, ducking away hastily into the crowd.

Out of his sight she dawdled, as she had not dared to do before; she walked so sluggishly toward the bar that a patron cursed at her to hurry up and let him by. Once she was near enough to Manowar for him to notice her, she quickened her movements to ordinary speed, and tried not to mind the slight unsteady trembling of her frame. "The Akalak wants a mug of ale," she called out over the tavern's noise.

Manowar grunted in acknowledgment, spending a few blessed ticks longer on serving customers at the bar before he poured out a tall mug for Dovey to take. "Watch he don't stiff you," he cautioned her; she nodded seriously, wrapping both hands about the mug and lifting it slowly from her captor's grasp. Her stomach was tight as she turned away.

She was not going back. Gods, she was not going back to that man, to let him have his pleasure. (She edged through the crowd toward his table.) Dira take them all, she was a Freeborn not a slave! They could not treat her so - she would run away, she would tear Manowar apart (she saw herself trying, her little body dwarfed before his bulk, saw his hands close on her arm and the bone crack sideways). But she couldn't let them, she mustn't let them -

Here was the Akalak's table. She set the ale before him. Then, her whole face pinched with anguish, she stood back a step and waited silently.


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Postby Aer'wyn Grisghul on July 31st, 2018, 7:58 am

Vel paid little attention to the girl’s visible fear. So clear he could smell it, but his own expression did little to acknowledge his awareness of such. It certainly wasn’t a rare occurrence that bar girls reacted to him this way. Though sincerely handsome, the man didn’t exactly look harmless and in a city like Sunberth such prejudice could be excused, after all. Perhaps if he had seen another Akalak among the scummy humans, he’d be equally inclined to share in such prejudice purely out of self preservation instincts. This was different than where he came from. Here no one’s intentions could ever be safe to assume.

As she returned with his drink, Vel took it graciously, taking a sip. He noted how she feared even as little contact as the simple brushing of fingers when exchanging items, having opted to place the full vessel on the table instead. That mask of fear never fading from her face. She was like a dog owned by a tyrant, with a tail between her legs at all times. Afraid to use the teeth she was given in fear he might pluck them out one by one. Almost a chime passed as the slave girl stood and stared at him, or at least in his general direction.

“Very well then, Dovey. Are you planning to stand there like a stick the whole time?” There was an accent to his voice, marking him out as an outlander almost as clearly as the colour of his skin. A suggestion that he was just about familiar with the common language, but it was certainly not the language of his birth. His hand gestured to the chair across the table from him, whether the air would choose to take it or not. “Come, sit already. Or do something, I don’t care what. Just don’t loiter about. It’s unnerving.” There was a chuckle to his tone, a slightly lighter note. Hearing back his own words in his ears, Vel thought them ridiculous enough to warrant ridicule.

He didn’t give his name however. She didn’t ask for it.

“Must be lonely working around so many people all day and none of them worthy even a word from you. I wager none of them care enough even to speak, if not in need to another flagon of ale.” Vel’s eyes meandered about the room lazily, focusing on nothing in particular for too long. In many ways he empathised. This whole town, though full of people, could get very lonely especially for a man like himself. How he missed Endrykas. “How did somebody like you Dovy end up in such a shithole, eh?”


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Postby Dovey on August 10th, 2018, 7:56 pm

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Yes, was the answer which immediately came to Dovey's mind, even before the Akalak had entirely finished his insulting question. Of course she was planning to stand there stock still and do nothing - did he expect her to pretend to enjoy his inevitable attentions, as well as endure them without resistance? Arrogant, sadistic vagik!

Although - why had those attentions of his not yet begun? Why wasn't he doing anything? He only talked, his accented voice bearing a hint of amusement, as if they were friendly acquaintances meeting on equal footing. Every moment he failed to put his hands on her was a gift, but the relief was spoiled by her spiking anxiety; she knew that if once she let her guard down, he would reach for her in that moment, and to be surprised by it would make the thing worse. She thought the effect must be intentional. The Akalak was trying to intimidate her, to throw her off balance, by his incongruous behavior.

When he gestured at the chair across from him, rather than one beside him, and invited her to sit, Dovey's confusion deepened. The skin between her eyebrows creased as she stared at him, calculating, for a few ticks longer. It must be some trick. Company did not sit out of reach - but company did, she thought fuzzily. Ordinary, friendly company, the sort of company who hadn't been kidnapped and sold off and told that paying customers were allowed to rape them. Company the sort dandies invited into their tea-rooms.

Did that sort of company exist in Sunberth at all? No, never mind that - it didn't matter to her; no one here would have the decency to count her as such. Unless this man alone had recognized the injustice - but no, he couldn't have done - his accent was not Kenashian, he couldn't possibly know what her Freeborn brand signified. Still, perhaps - ?

She sat, uneasy, tugging at her skirt to settle it beneath her. She couldn't read him, couldn't understand; but still she had to do what he said. Now that they were both seated he positively loomed above her. She stared up into his face.

When he spoke she swallowed nervously, gathering herself for a moment before she replied. She was lonely here, terribly lonely, but was that true understanding in his tone or only manipulation? "I was sold here," she answered at last, and was going to fall silent again - but no, she couldn't leave it at that, as if there had been nothing worth telling before this servitude! If by a miracle of the gods the warrior was the first person here to sympathize with her, well, then she had to make him know.

She cleared her throat. "I was kidnapped," she went on, "out of Alvadas. Properly I'm a free woman." She glanced down at her hands, twisting nervously together in her lap. Her sleeve had shifted to reveal her Freeborn brand; the mark caught her eye and sparked her anger. "Petchers don't care for the laws," she said abruptly, looking up to meet the Akalak's gaze. Her own blue eyes were hard and bright for that moment she looked at him; then she realized she hadn't made sure Manowar couldn't hear her, and fear entered them again. She glanced rapidly from side to side before dropping her gaze once more to her hands, mouth tightening in aggravation at herself for being so incautious.


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Postby Aer'wyn Grisghul on August 16th, 2018, 7:11 pm

Vel took note of how nervous she seemed when she sat down. Barely did she touch the wood of the chair, she already seemed like she was ready to pounce up like a cat. Fear - certainly that had to be it. She wasn’t the first to react to him in such a way after all. About to dismiss her, was Vel, so close for such nervous company was little fun. Nervousness inhibited tongues. But then, at last she spoke.

Sold…

How sad a turn of events it was. Midnight blue ears committed her tale to memory as he looked at her, tilting his head, his brows mirroring her’s. It wasn’t pity in his eyes. He wouldn’t disrespect a stranger kind enough to entertain his whim. It was a kind of understanding that only a man, who had also been held in Sunberth against his every wish, taken from the people he loves and the Drykas society he fit into, could give her.

As she revealed the odd looking mark scarred into her skin, Vel’s brow furrowed further. “That mark. Is that a law in this Alvadas city you’re from? How interesting.” He hadn’t the wish to judge different cultures. Having found himself loud and proud in Drykas, so far from Riverfall as it was, once upon a time, he learned that different strokes really were for different folks. “In Riverfall, where I come from, we seldom left such scars on each other. They happened more organically though training and slaying beasts. But I suppose those were the scars of freedom too. Here… here they’re just scars.”

Taking a long big gulp of his drink, as if what he said depressed him somewhat, the Akalak sighed. “Damn it. So much slavery in this free city” Deep deep sarcasm underlined the ford ‘free’. For Sunberth in it’s reality was anything but. They were all shackled by the gangs who upheld the laws of the lawless.



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Postby Dovey on August 18th, 2018, 5:17 am

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It was very strange, Dovey thought to herself, that the most intimidating figure in a room full of burly toughs should be the one to actually soothe her fear. But it was so; for every tick that passed in their slow and somehow gentle conversation, her breathing grew steadier, and her racing pulse drew infinitesimally nearer to an ordinary speed.

Now that she was no longer in the grip of panic, it was easier to read the Akalak's expressions for what they were, without assigning him deceitful intent. She wouldn't trust him - she was determined not to do so, merely for safety's sake - but the look of real understanding in his eyes when she told him of what had been done to her made it difficult to keep her resolution. Gods, did someone truly know what she felt in the midst of this nightmare?

Her companion's manner having drawn her into at least a semblance of ease, she did not hesitate to respond to his supposition about her mark. "It's a law, but not of Alvadas. I only lived there a year. Really I'm from Kenash, and so is my Freeborn brand." There could be no harm in telling him that, and she found herself more eager than ever to bring up her home-city. She had missed the place sorely ever since she left it, but now Kenash seemed a dreamland. If she could somehow make her way back home, where slavers had boundaries to abide by, and a reasonably upstanding Freeborn could count on her continued freedom...

But she had no way even to escape this tavern, much less this city. And the Akalak was right; nobody here cared what your scars were supposed to mean.

As the Akalak drank, Dovey played with a strand of her hair, twisting it around her pinky until the finger was tight against her scalp. At the man's words she made a bitter noise of accord. She had hardly seen any of the city, but a place that allowed what had happened to her to happen to anybody, could not be a place that valued freedom in the least. She was bold enough to lean forward, letting the knot of hair spiral down into an ugly little curl, and ask him a question in a low tone. "Do you think they really believe it's a free city?" She cast a swift eye about the room. "Even the man who - who kidnapped me said it was, and proudly, but I don't see - " oh, no one else was listening, she might as well say what she meant - "I don't see how they can all be so wretchedly stupid as to think it's true at all."


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Postby Aer'wyn Grisghul on August 18th, 2018, 6:14 pm

It was alright tat she didn’t trust him. He didn’t trust her either. One couldn’t trust anyone but their own damn self in a city where making one wrong move was equal to signing one’s own death warrant. But at least the slave girl didn’t look like she was about to have a heart attack.

He looked a little surprised as she told him a tale of her origin. Such a long way to travel and for what? To find herself shackled by more than just chains of iron and fear. It was something they had in common; the two of them. Outlanders who belonged in Sunberth about as much as a goose belonged in a dog pound. And neither of them could leave. How sad a tale it was.

The Akalak nodded with understanding. He felt for Dovey as much as he felt for himself.

“If you could return there again, would you?” He asked, contemplating his own opinion on the matter. If he had such a choice, would he? Was there anything even to return to back in Riverfall?

As she leaned in and let a spiral of hair untangle itself from around her finger Vel nodded in agreement to her words. His own words fell eerily quiet so that only the keen words of his new companion could hear. “Such are humans… no offence of course. I’m sure you’re not as stupid as most but still, most are. This city is a wretched pile of shake festering in it’s own filth. How could anyone like it here.”

He slid the half empty mug to her with a tick, blue finger. If she chose to take a sip to sate her demons, he wouldn’t blame her. But neither would he force it to her. Everyone had their own vices. Vel’s was alcohol but others abhorred the taste. “I wish…” he sighed. “I wish there was a way to break these chains. For me and for you. Hope is all there’s left but mark my words, one day you’ll be a free woman again and on that day I’ll see to it my self that you shall have your revenge.”

Vel plinked slowly. Hope filled him. All he ever had that was truly his own was hope. For five decades in spite of every impossibility of his one and only wish for freedom, he had not given up on that hope. It was what kept him alive and since Dovey still breathed too, he figured that was something else they shared.
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Postby Dovey on August 28th, 2018, 3:19 am

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"If you could return there again, would you?"

Dovey's eyes widened at the question. After a moment she controlled her surprise, told herself that it was natural for the Akalak, a stranger to Sunberth as well, to ask such a thing. But for a moment she'd thought he had seen to the heart of her, to the longing for home which formed the core of her fear and grief at being held here. "Gods, yes," she said, her voice hoarse with fervency. "I - "

And she paused. Bitterly nostalgic words crowded behind her lips, but the very intensity of her emotions made her shy away from expressing them. If she once began to voice what she felt, where would she stop? In tears, before a man she hardly knew? Before the whole population of this sleazy tavern? She mustn't risk that.

But the prospect of reminiscing still lured her, so she turned to a safer aspect of the topic - speaking of the entertainments of the city, rather than the homelike comfort and rule of law which were now the main objects of her longing. "In Kenash there's a party around every corner," she told the man across from her. "Or there's a troupe of actors performing in the park, or the Magistrate's come up with a new festival. I remember one harvest party - gods, I begged my mother to let me play Bloodball! She said I'd be eaten by a granidile." That hadn't been so long ago, had it? Had that been the season her father - but no. She shut her eyes tight. No, she couldn't talk any more of home after all, not if such memories were going to come up. The Akalak probably didn't even know what she was talking about. They probably didn't have Bloodball where he was from.

The ale was more than welcome. She wrapped her fingers round the sides of the mug and sipped as though it were tea, or hot broth - something wholesome and nourishing. She had already been too long around so much drink, with all her sorrows to drown, but without the chance to take even a single swallow. Now she had to stop herself from draining the entire cup.

After a long few moments, she lowered the mug from her lips and slid it back across the table to the Akalak. "Thank you," she said, and felt almost ordinary - like any woman at any tavern in the world, responding with plain good manners to a little favor done for her. But her companion's next words erased that comforting fiction, and brought the taint of suspicion back into her expression.

He had drunk from the same mug of ale he had offered to her, so she knew that was all right. But now he had made this promise, this outlandish promise of vengeance on her behalf, and had compared his chains to hers when she couldn't see how he was wearing any at all...

She thought of Collins, impossibly sweet six-foot Collins, whose gentleness and generosity had turned out entirely too good to be true. She hadn't so much as suspected him until he and his companion had already kidnapped her to sell. The kindness of the man before her might hide a similar scheme, his words intended merely to bring down her guard and allow him to exploit her in whatever way would best profit him.

And - gods - if it were so, he had chosen a good tactic. Because Dovey could not stop a part of herself from taking the Akalak at his word.

Fear and hope warred within her - the ardent look in his eyes, and her desire for his promise to be genuine, weighed against her absolute vulnerability in this place and the sting of the deception that had brought her here such a short time ago. Her instinct to distrust the man also tugged at her to hide that distrust - for as a patron of the Fish he had power over her, and how could she tell what he was capable of if provoked? But if he were being sincere, she longed to know it, to know that there was someone in this shykehole of a city who cared, even a little, what happened to her. And he couldn't be expected to dispel her suspicions if she didn't voice them to him.

For fear of him she would not say, outright, how hard it was to believe that a stranger would go out of his way to avenge her. But she compromised with herself, found something she could safely express no matter the truth of the Akalak's character. Perhaps the way he answered would make his motives clearer to her. "Sir, I don't know your name."

Her voice was as neutral as she could make it. The statement contained her trepidation without really expressing it. Unreasonably, she wanted him to read her full meaning, to say something - what she did not know - which would completely and infallibly allay her fears.


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