Closed Never Surrender (Kelski)

Aster's tired of feeling like giving up, and goes to Kelski for help.

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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Asterope on March 10th, 2019, 11:53 pm

12th of spring, 519 AV

Aster sat quietly by the window, watching patiently for the sunrise. She couldn't see the pale golden light peek over the horizon from where she was, but she felt it as a tingling throughout her body, and a moment later she sat in her divine form; honey-blonde hair fell over her shoulders, and she could feel the weight of her horns spiraling above her head.

The Eth breathed out a long, soft sigh. Alard was already up, bustling around behind her as he prepared for the fighting he had in store that day; Aster didn't understand it, really. She was tired of bloodshed. She looked down, picking at her fingernails; it was only in her head, but she could still feel the blood dried beneath them from the young boy she had tried to save the day before.

"Come on, sunshine," Alard grunted. "No time to waste." Aster rose to her feet, already dressed to go out, and silently followed Alard out of the barracks. Despite the early hour, the streets were full as word of the challenge that day had spread.

Asterope lost track of where they were going as Alard dragged her along, gripping her wrist tightly. The location of the fighting was even more crowded, people packed in tightly on all sides. Alard elbowed his way through, shouting and stopped near the front of the crowd. "I'm going to talk to Tall Johnny," he told to Aster, having to shout to be heard over the crowd.

"The fighting starts soon. You stay here, you hear?" Asterope nodded, and watched Alard cross what she assumed was serving as the arena. Soon, he was out of sight. Aster slunk back in the crowd slightly, not wanting a first-row view to the senseless violence. A thought occurred to her then; the fighting was supposed to be going on all day. Why did she have to stay? It was easy to get lost in the crowd.

Was it worth it, though? Aster glanced around, debating; she had yet to be found out for her little excursions. But Alard would be expecting to see her in the crowd, and she was a noticeable figure...then again, she wasn't exactly the tallest. In a decisive moment, Aster pushed through the crowd back the way she'd came, and finally broke free. Except now that she was away from the crowd, she had nowhere to go.

She wandered aimlessly for awhile, stopping by the river and staring into the muddy depths. Yesterday, she had resigned herself to her fate; perhaps she was simply meant to fail. Meant to be a slave. It seemed no matter how hard she tried she couldn't save anyone, really. Listlessly, she nudged a pebble into the river, watching the ripples spread through the water. But a memory nagged at her brain until she finally considered it; a blue-eyed spiritist, telling her gently but earnestly about someone who could help.

Asterope hadn't followed the advice, at least not yet. She wasn't sure why. She'd had a few opportunities to wander the city alone. Perhaps she was scared. She was so tired of feeling scared, though. Tired of feeling hopeless. But did she deserve another chance? Maybe this was some sort of just punishment. Nara would be so disappointed in her, to see her where she was, taking the blows dealt to her and cowering like an injured puppy, letting them come again and again.

Sudden anger coursed through her then, directed mostly at herself; that she would let herself give up, after all she had been through. Aster let out a wordless cry of frustration, kicking hard at the ground and sending numerous rocks scattering into the water. The next thing she knew, she was hopping on one of the boats used to cross the river; once she hit the other side, she took off running.

This wasn't going to be how it ended; this wasn't going to be where she gave up. She would rather die trying than live out her life, however long it may be, miserable and alone and a slave. It was as if somewhere inside her, a switch had flipped; Aster was still tired, but she wasn't going to sit around and let it get to her as she wallowed in her exhaustion and sadness and hopelessness. Not anymore.

Kelski at the Midnight Gem. That's what Anja had told her, those seasons ago. The only issue, of course, was that she wasn't sure where that was. But perhaps there was something or someone on her side that day, because as fate would have it, she was in exactly the right section of the city, though she didn't realize it.

Baroque Bay was still moderately crowded despite the competition going on; the air was fresh as a sea breeze blew in, and smelled of salt. It wasn't unpleasant, and Aster slowed her pace; as she walked, she tried to pick out the least threatening person she could to ask for directions. An older woman, shuffling along with a basket full of what smelled like fresh fish clutched in both wrinkly hands, caught her eye; Aster stopped, politely asking for directions to the Midnight Gem.

The old woman sneered up at her. "What am I, a map?" She snapped at the Eth. Aster apologized, stepping back, ready to try someone else who looked like they at least wouldn't pull a knife on her for asking them a question; but the old woman grunted and jerked her thumb over her shoulder as she continued to shuffle on. "Keep goin' straight. Can't miss it. And maybe figure out where things are in yer own petchin' city."

She muttered something under her breath as Asterope thanked her before taking off again at a run, weaving between people, her breath coming in huffs; she was in such a hurry, she almost missed it. Aster skidded to a halt; the building was large, and cleaner than many of the ones in Sunberth. A sign hanging above the door said in neat script, 'The Midnight Gem'. Behind her, Aster could hear the crashing of the ocean.

She walked up the front path cautiously; there were even flowers blooming in boxes around the front of the building. Aster paused, suddenly nervous, but took in a deep breath and pushed through the front door. The inside was even cleaner, and Aster peered around as she walked in. She felt out of place, in her dirty ragged clothing, the collar around her neck clearly marking her a slave. She clearly wasn't a customer of such an establishment. She still wasn't sure what the store even sold; she could only assume jewelry or something else to do with gems.

A man with piercing eyes stood behind the front counter, observing her silently. Asterope cleared her throat, approaching with a few hesitant steps. "Uhm, I'm sorry to bother you. I'm looking for someone named Kelski? I was told I could find her here by someone named Anja..." She paused, wracking her brain for the Drykas man's full name. "Anja Nightwatcher," she finally recalled.

He said I could come here for help, she thought, but she didn't say that out loud, instead wringing her fingers together nervously as she waited.
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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on March 17th, 2019, 6:24 am

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Ebon studied the newcomer. He had set eyes upon her the moment she’d entered the shop. A light sheen of sweat as if she’d been running coated her forehead, and she looked nervous, tightly controlling her breath as if she’d been out of it and was trying to hide the fact. He ignored the state of the woman’s clothing and instead took in her pale, golden honey colored hair. His eyes traveled the length of her lavender horns, noting the flecks of lighter coloring in them that almost looked like jade. It was an unusual combination. She was one of Gilthas’ kind, for sure, though unlike Gilthas she was a child of the sun. The Kelvic Night Lion snorted, his gruff demeanor hiding much of his true nature.

Ebon looked rough. He had a chiseled face with lips that were full and broad. His nose was longer than a handsome man would enjoy, though his piercing blue eyes reflected his predator nature. He tended to glower more than he smiled, though he made an effort to gentle his expression as he smelled the worry on the woman. She spoke, at last, asking for Kelski and dropping Anja’s name as if she were a friend. Ebon’s eyes moved thoughtfully from her to the door and he rose and skirted around her to lock it and flip the sign.

“Are you being followed?” He asked cautiously, wanting to cut off any possibility of a brawl in his shop. He peered through the window, ignoring the woman for a moment, and took a good look up and down the street. She acted like she could have been followed, chased even, though he wasn’t sure why he sensed that.

“Kelski is in the workshop. Are you injured?” He asked, inhaling the woman’s scent deeply. He didn’t like fear clinging to women, and her certainly didn’t like them looking as nervous as this one looked standing in his showroom. “It’s safe here. Take a deep breath… a few of them. You look like you need the air.” He said without preamble then turned, walked back by her, and opened a door that seemed to lead to a big space beyond his workspace behind the register. It gave the newcomer a glimpse of a workshop.

Ebon called softly within it. “Kels? There’s someone here to see you.” He said without lifting his voice. Asterope could hear the sound of a wheel spinning in the background, and a light rasping or grinding echo as if someone were pressing something hard against the gritty wheel and shaving off bits and pieces. The wheel noise stopped momentarily, and she could hear a chair sliding out. Tools were replaced on a bench and a figure appeared in Asterope’s line of vision. The Kelvic wasn’t tall, at least shorter than the Eth was by a few inches. And while she did not have Asterope’s ethereal beauty, the Kelvic was striking in her own way. Silver eyes framed a pale almost colorless skin that was framed by waves of dark hair that ended in white tips. She moved like a fighter, walking on the balls of her booted feet, with a hip rolling stride that bespoke confidence or at least security in her own body.

She pulled off a leather apron, hung it on a peg by the door, and walked out to greet Asterope. She laid a hand on Ebon’s shoulder, squeezed it gently, and the other Kelvic moved aside, back to the register where he’d been quietly labeling some new stock. Kelski spoke then, after Ebon had retreated, but made no move to keep her voice down or conceal the converstation from the other Kelvic.

“I’m Kelski. Did I hear you were a friend of Anja’s? What can I do for you today?” She asked. Her silver eyes, though cold of tone, held a warmth that was welcoming and curious. Kelski was cautious but didn’t look at the woman with suspition. She did, however, lower her eyes and spot the slave collar. Distaste filled her features for a moment… so quickly the other woman might have mistook it for anger at herself.

Kelski was angry. She hated slavery. But the reaction was quickly covered by a proffered hand. “It’s good to meet you.” She said, treating the woman no differently than she would treat a finely dressed customer that fully intended to spend cold hard coin in the store. Though dying to find out who owned the woman, Kelski held her tongue and let the woman speak. She would ask later about who was keeping slaves and why. Then she’d go make their lives miserable if she could.
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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Asterope on March 20th, 2019, 4:10 pm


Silence reigned for a long moment before the man stood and exited from behind the counter. Aster's heart thudded hard when he locked the door, turning over the hanging sign so that it read 'closed' from the outside.

Her fears were alleviated when a moment later he asked if she'd been followed. Had she? She didn't think so. Certainly not by Alard, in any case. Aster realized she hadn't answered the question and shook her head hastily.

"I don't think so." She shook her head again at the follow-up question. "No, I'm fine." She realized belatedly that she was indeed still breathing quickly from her run, and followed the advice she was given, taking in a slow, deep breath.

It was no wonder that he'd thought she was being chased, since she'd so clearly been running. Asterope held the breath for a few ticks, forcing her pulse to calm before she exhaled slowly, repeating the process twice more. As she breathed, the man turned his back to her, presumably to go fetch Kelski from the workshop.

Aster peered around Ebon's form curiously, but didn't move closer; there was a faint grinding sound, not quite metallic, as if something was being sanded down. It stopped suddenly, and a moment later a female figure appeared.

Asterope examined her curiously as she hung her apron and approached; she was striking, beautiful in a strange, unusual way. Her dark hair was a shock against her pale skin, and the white in it stood out starkly. It was her eyes that caught Aster's attention most of all; as the Eth met Kelski's gaze, she was taken aback by the piercing silver.

They were sharp but not quite cold; there was something welcoming in them that put Aster slightly more at ease. "Friend might be a bit of a strong term," she admitted, somewhat sheepishly as Kelski spoke.

Realizing then that she hadn't introduced herself, Aster gladly took the offered hand, the other woman's hand slightly cooler in the warmth of her own. "I'm Asterope." The way Kelski's gaze flickered to her collar and the shift of her expression, momentary as it was, did not go unnoticed.

"You as well. I don't mean to be too blunt, but..." that wasn't entirely true, but seemed the polite thing to say. "This is actually why I'm here." She reached up and tapped a nail on her collar; the gentle tap was quiet, but sounded deafening in the silence, at least to the Eth. Still, she forged on. "Anja said that...you've been in a similar situation. But you managed to get out." How had he phrased it? "Earn your freedom."

That much was obvious, as Aster cast another look around the building; was Kelski the owner? She had to assume as much from what she'd seen so far. The thought that the other woman had once also been a slave, and seeing where she was now, was mind-blowing; the Eth was stubborn, yet deep down, perhaps she hadn't quite realized such a thing was possible. It sparked hope in Asterope's chest, a small, warm glow of an ember; the beginning of something that could be fanned into a brilliant flame if she was careful not to let it extinguish.

"And he said that you might be able to help." Aster had no issues being straightforward, and she had no issues asking for help; but she was also aware that what she was asking was nothing easy or simple, and that Kelski was a complete stranger. If she was honest with herself, Asterope didn't even know what 'help' meant in this situation.

"I know that it's a lot to ask of someone I don't know," Aster admitted, absentmindedly rubbing her thumb over the sun branded into the back of her hand. "But if you can do anything at all, even just give me advice, please. I would owe you a serious debt. I don't have any money, but anything I could do for you in return, I will. Just let me know. I have some skills that could be of use, and if I can get out of this thing," her hand motioned towards the collar again, "I could work for you, even, if you need help around here."

Anja had said that Kelski liked to help people, and he himself had declined any sort of repayment for his own help at the tavern; but she was also asking Kelski for a lot more, and it wouldn't sit right with Asterope to ask for such a huge favour without at least offering something in return. Perhaps it was just her pride speaking, but the thought left a bad taste in her mouth. There was a difference between asking for help when it was needed, and taking hand-outs that were given out of pity.

Unable to help herself, Aster spun in a small circle to take in the room again as she added, "This place is amazing, by the way. You own it? It's beautiful. It's so...clean, unlike the rest of this city." A very faint smile played at Aster's mouth as she faced Kelski again. "What sort of business do you have here?" It wasn't politeness or an attempt to charm, but rather genuine appreciation and curiosity that spurred the Eth's questions, slightly off-topic as they may have been.

Standing in the middle of the entrance room, in a clean space, with people who were polite if not friendly...it felt healing. Even just the few chimes that she'd been there, Aster felt calmer and more at ease; more like her old self. She had missed being able to have normal conversations with people.

Even if Kelski couldn't help her, or even if she didn't want to, she hoped she could befriend the other woman. It had been too long since she'd had someone she really considered a friend. The last time had been Penny, perhaps even Madeira, in Alvadas; and that felt such a long way off, as if it had been a lifetime ago.
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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on April 7th, 2019, 3:48 pm

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Kelski listened to Asterope quietly. She didn’t interrupt nor did she add anything to Asterope’s story or ask any questions until the woman was done speaking. She let the woman speak on, knowing sometimes it was best to remain silent. People liked to fill the silence with words, and sometimes those words were more telling than the actual pitch that came before them. The Kelvic tilted her head, wonderingly, as Asterope asked her what kind of business it was. How could the woman not know with all the jewelry on display in the showroom they were standing in? Rings adorned the glass display cases, which were also filled with elaborate necklaces and simpler sections of the more affordable jewelry for the masses. Was she just so nervous she couldn’t see? Or was fear driving her?

Kelski’s eyes were sharp, but sometimes she wished she could smell emotion on people like canine Kelvics could. All she could do was study Asterope as the woman spoke and try to decide if she was telling the truth. Anja wasn’t here to verify, and name dropping wasn’t uncommon even if the woman didn’t even remotely know Anja.

The Jeweler bowed her head and dragged a hand through her hair. She was dressed in her work clothing and leather apron with a jeweler’s loupe dangling from a chain around her neck. She was barefoot and her work clothing was worn. The cherry red leather apron was scarred from quite a few seasons of use.

“I didn’t win my freedom. I simply worked hard and a distant acquaintance purchased my freedom from afar when he learned I was a slave… an old Jewelcrafting Master from Lhavit.” She said simply. “This is a jewelry store.” She said, then added… “Thank you for the compliments. Ebon minds its upkeep so its all due to his diligence.” She said, nodding to the other Kelvic. Ebon smiled brightly and warmly at Asterope and nodded his own thanks to her compliment. He’d remained with them, tucking himself behind the retail counter, looking busy but obviously there as a sort of backup. Asterope was an unknown, and Kelski wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth or not.

She was inclined to believe her though. Ethaefal. The horns gave it away, though she’d never seen one in the sunlight. Gilthas was of the Moon. Kelski studied Asterope for a moment, then looked thoughtful.

“Who owns you? It’s possible to buy you from their possession, but it doesn’t help slavery’s cause much. It just adds fuel to its economics. And would they even sell? We could kill them too. That’s always an option. But I’d need to know who they are and what kind of situation they have going… there are people we can easily kill and take what is there’s and then there are those that are not so easy to deal with.” She added, knowing Asterope knew what she meant. If Asterope was the property of private citizens, then it would be easier than if she were property of a gang or even of a gang member. That got tricky, though there were a couple of gangs Kelski would indeed be willing to tangle with.

There were several she didn’t want to mess with either.

It all depended upon what the Ethaefal said.

“Is your life … difficult? Do they hurt or abuse you? Or are you given fair work for decent rewards like days off and time to yourself?” Kelski asked hopefully. She had never been allowed to walk freely around the city. Always, she had a guard trailing her when she was owned. Asterope appeared to be alone, which was odd, though not exactly telling of her circumstances.

Kelski wanted to help, of course, but she simply needed more information before she could do so. And she had interests to protect. The Gem, its inhabitants, and even some of the people of the city that might get hurt if a fight broke out… innocents. Kelski hated that she lived in a place where slavery was so common… where one person owned another.

In that moment, she would have given anything to be able to simply take the girls hand, lead her to the authorities, and report the illegal activity so her captors could be arrested. No one should ever be comfortable owning another. The Kelvic wondered if such a place existed? If so, she wanted to be there, and not here, not dealing with another living creature’s need to be free. They should be all born free, not born to the whims of their socioeconomic situation.

Kelski remained quiet, her expression neutrally friendly, while she waited for Asterope to elaborate on her situation.
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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Asterope on April 18th, 2019, 2:11 am

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As Aster's gaze continued to flicker around the front room, finally taking in the details, she noted with embarrassment that it was actually quite obvious what sort of business the Midnight Gem was. It had been one of her original fleeting thoughts, but her nerves and excitement had apparently made her miss the very obvious detail of the jewelry in the cases.

She was grateful that Kelski didn't point it out, instead answering her question anyway. The Eth listened carefully as Kelski responded to her; she tried to keep her face composed, but couldn't help the disappointment when the Kelvic admitted to having her freedom bought.

She was glad for her, of course; but it wasn't promising for her own future. The mention of Lhavit caught Aster's attention, surprising her; that was a ways off, and she was curious to know what the city was like. But there were other things to discuss first, so she filed the information away for later.

Asterope nodded, returning Ebon's smile, albeit more mutedly; she supposed that made sense. Now calmer, and making sure to pay more attention after her embarrassing question earlier, Aster noted the worn clothing that Kelski wore, and the well-used leather apron. They spoke of work clothes, which meant the Kelvic herself likely made the jewelry. It was no wonder she had help in managing the actual upkeep of the store.

Pleasantries out of the way, Kelski seemed more than content to dive into the heart of the matter, which caught Aster slightly off-guard. Buying her freedom seemed out of the question; she certainly didn't have the money to do so, and she didn't know anyone in Sunberth well enough to be able to expect that sort of favour.

Killing Alard. The thought wasn't entirely foreign, but to hear it spoken so plainly made Aster swallow. Her fingers twitched slightly as if in reflex. Could she do that, if it came down to it? Truthfully, she didn't know, and it scared her. What scared her more was the deep, dark sense of satisfaction the prospect gave her.

What she wasn't expecting was for Kelski to continue on. She would need to know? Was she offering to kill Alard? The transition of the Kelvic's wording, switching into using the word 'we', inserting herself into the situation, was more than Aster expected.

She blinked, her golden eyes wide as she stared at the Kelvic jeweler, who continued to talk as if she hadn't just sent Aster's mind spinning. Taking a deep breath, Aster answered carefully. "A man named Alard. He..." she paused, knowing the next words she spoke would give Kelski new knowledge and make the situation more difficult. Would the other woman still want to help?

"He's a member of the Sun's Birth," Aster admitted, and held out her hand in proof, showing Kelski the symbol of the sun branded into the back of her hand, marring the otherwise perfectly smooth expanse of rose-gold skin.

Fair work? Rewards? Aster hesitated as she mulled it over. Truthfully, if she examined her situation from an objective standpoint and compared it to that of some other slaves in the city, she knew she fared much better than many of them. Perhaps she should be grateful. She shook the thought off before it dragged her back down into a more negative line of thinking.

"It's...not as bad as it could be. I don't think he's accustomed to having slaves. He's inconsistent. He treats me more as a shiny prize than a slave, I think. He likes to show off." Aster spoke thoughtfully, mulling over her time with Alard and the way he had treated her.

"He takes me with him a lot of the time, when he leaves the barracks. He spends much of his time training at the Proving Grounds. Otherwise, he leaves me at his apartment. I clean, and tend his wounds when he has them. There are times where I can get away, when he does leave me alone. He's competing today, and left me in the crowd, so I decided to come here."

"So far he...hasn't treated me terribly, I suppose. He doesn't particularly abuse me, at least not unnecessarily, in his eyes. As long as I do as I'm told he seems content to just drag me around and show me off like a status symbol. He's always reminding me of how much money he paid for me," she laughed, the sound quiet but bitter. "He's hurt me a few times, but not...excessively, and only when I upset him."

The Eth's words came haltingly as she described her situations, pauses between her words as she thought and considered how to voice things, mulling over her situation. She wanted to be as honest as possible with Kelski; it was the least she could do since the woman was offering her help.

"I haven't really been with him for long, though. I was in a city called Ravok before this. It was...very different. I'm not sure if I'd say it was better or worse. I also haven't exactly done anything to really displease him, though," she added after a moment.

Asterope glanced away at the admittance, her gaze focusing on the ground; she was ashamed to tell someone else, an ex-slave at that, about how complacent she had been so far. Listless and obedient; she disliked to think of herself as such, but it was exactly how she had been behaving.

She had her moments, but overall, the fight had been sucked out of her. Until now. Swallowing hard, Aster looked back at Kelski; there was something desperate in her eyes, and deep in the amber depths, a spark of hope, of defiance.

"You've already done more than I could have asked for. I don't want you to put yourself or what you have here at risk," Aster motioned to the Gem around her. For indeed, the establishment would have been impressive anywhere. To see it Sunberth, and to see that it had been made by a woman who presumably not long ago had been a slave, was beyond impressive to the Ethaefal.

"But I don't know what else to do. I'm willing to do whatever it takes," she exhaled. Was she? When she spoke the words, she knew them as true, despite the doubts lingering in her mind. Whatever it takes, she told herself. "I don't know that he would be willing to sell me, if that was somehow an option. But I understand that killing him is not just a matter of doing it and being done with it." Certainly, a gang would not take kindly to any of its members being murdered.

If they could trace the crime back to her, back to Kelski, then she doubted either of them would be safe. Unless...an idea stirred deep within her. If they could trace it back to them, they were well and truly petched. But what if they couldn't? What if, better yet, they could trace it back to someone else? But who, and how?

Aster frowned slightly to herself as she mulled the thoughts over. "Do you know anything of the other gangs in the city?" She asked Kelski, suddenly; she knew they existed, had been warned once before when she wandered into Daggerhand territory. But she wondered if they had symbols like the Sun's Birth did; would they take credit for such a crime?

"If we did kill him," Aster exhaled slowly, almost unable to believe that she was discussing murder so casually. "Would it be possible to frame one of the other gangs?" She was running with the only idea that had been suggested so far that seemed at all feasible; her own addition to it might be impossible, or much too difficult. She didn't know, but she figured it couldn't hurt to suggest it to Kelski. The Kelvic had much more experience with the city of Sunberth than she did.

Uncertain, and wondering if she was just reaching too far, Asterope waited patiently for Kelski to answer; she had given the woman a lot of information, she knew, and then blurted out the barebones of a potentially foolish and impossible plan. It was likely a lot to process. If Kelski turned down her idea, Aster wouldn't be overly surprised, and would simply move on with whatever suggestion the Kelvic had.

Otherwise, if she agreed with it or thought it might be feasible...then they had a start. Something to work towards.

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Never Surrender (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on April 24th, 2019, 11:57 pm

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Kelski hadn’t wanted to embarrass Asterope. Not at all. She couldn’t imagine what the woman was going through. Had she slipped away from her captors for a few chimes to seek hope somewhere in a somewhat hopeless situation? How much courage must that have taken? And to have tried to do that on the word of someone else. The Kelvic rarely had apathy for other people, especially humans, but in this case she utterly understood.

The Kelvic studied Asterope as the slave looked around. She regretted asking Asterope if she was hurt, abused, and treated unfairly. Asterope was a slave… and a beautiful one at that. Of course, she was treated badly. This was Sunberth. All slaves were seen as material possessions, not as people. Men raped. Men showed off. Men used slaves to pay debts. Kelski didn’t have to imagine. Once, not very long ago, it had been her. And no one had saved her. Very few people got saved. If they didn’t take matters into their own hands, they soon found out the Gods were not kind to those who sat back and waited for them to be kind. They only acknowledged those who strode out and braved the world showing courage and fortitude.

Kelski took a careful glance at Ebon. He watched both women openly curious. This was a new situation for Kelski and indeed a new one for Ebon. He knew they all made good money with the jewelry store and she couldn’t help but think he was wondering if they were going to put it to good use in this case or act like the greedy humans did… holding tight to their earnings. Blue eyes met silver and something silently exchanged between the two of them. She nodded imperceptibly and he let out a breath. The Kelvic Sea Eagle wondered if Ebon wanted her to help Asterope because she was a beautiful woman or was there something else there? Had Asterope been an ugly gnarled old man, Kelski still would have not thought twice to help. Would Ebon?

The Jeweler ran a hand through her hair which was busy escaping the messy knot she had it tied in at the nape of her neck. Sharp eyes studied the slave, reading a bit on her face as to what she was saying.

“Alard.” Kelski didn’t know him, but that he was a Sun Birther was enough for her to hate him. The Kelvic hated seeing the brand on Asterope’s hand. The brand on her buttock burned a moment and she was truthfully ready to leave to kill the man right now.

“I have the money.” She said simply, catching a hint of Asterope’s uncertainty. “You’d be worth a thousand, if not more, hard coin to him.” She mused, certain of it. Of course, she had the coin. A Master Craftsman in Sunberth would never starve… let alone a Master Jeweler. And Kelski had been building a legacy to build something besides wealth. She’d been building a legacy to build change. But more and more she was certain that change wouldn’t happen here in Sunberth. There was something diseased in the city – something far bigger than she was and her dreams.

“If he won’t sell, we’ll have to kill him.” Kelski affirmed. “It’s a cold hard truth here in Sunberth that giving and taking isn’t equal. And if he won’t give, we will have to take and take more than we offered to take initially because if he won’t sell you, there’s no other recourse. Slavery is legal here and you are nothing more than a possession. It is the way of this city. And I hate the Sun’s Birth anyhow. If we are lucky and it comes to killing, we’d get to kill more than just him… a lot more.” Kelski hissed, her eagle nature coming out. She narrowed her eyes and looked very much like a predator for a moment. Fierce, cold, and cunning… Sun Birth blood on her hands would feel good.

Maybe he had some men. Maybe he had some debtors they could blame it on, or at the very least a rival gang. How hard would it be to knock a few Daggerhands off and leave their corpses dead along with the Sun Birth’s corpse and stage the scene to look like a gang attack?

It would be easy. But first... she’d try to buy Asterope. In so many ways it would be disappointing if the man sold. Kelski half hoped he wouldn’t. She didn’t like fueling the slave trade. But she would do this thing for this woman because the woman asked and the woman dared hope. That told Kelski the woman wasn’t broken.

“The Proving Grounds are not a good place for an ambush. Nor is the path between the Barracks and The Proving Grounds. But if he is a man, he spends time at taverns and goes out. Perhaps he visits Tall Johnny’s or the taverns in the city.

“He holds you as a slave. That is more than anyone should have to put up with. They get their way too often, these men….” Kelski said, shaking her head in disgust.

Kelski grew quiet as Asterope explained her history unprompted. The information was helpful. Maybe this Alard wasn’t too attached yet. And if he just used her for sex he could get that anywhere. Kelski didn’t know of Ravok or what that city’s situation was all about. But the Kelvic could see the desperation in her eyes. She could see the pain there too. And there was defiance. But was it enough? Kelski wasn’t sure it was. Some slaves didn’t live free well. Some slaves just went from containment straight into worse situations, always being the victim, always letting people push them around. It disgusted her.

Then, to answer Asterope’s final question, Kelski shook her head. “If I kill him…. not you. You don’t look strong enough yet. You look broken and complacent and like this is the last decent attempt you’ll ever have at taking charge of your own life. People like that don’t know how to fight. They can fight… and they can be taught… but you don’t have time to learn before you rid yourself of him. If I kill him we can make it look like anything we want… with just a little planning.” It was a good thing Kelski was a very good planner. Otherwise, none of this would work. Plan A. Test Asterope. Was she worth saving? Plan B. Buy Asterope. Plan C. Kill Alard and frame someone else. Kelski looked almost eager at the planning that would be involved in any of this.

“It’s my life to risk. I’m free. It’s an option a person has when they are free.” Kelski said, then schooled her features into cool indifference. This next part would be hard to say, but she wanted to know anyhow. She swallowed, glanced at Ebon, and then returned her mercurial gaze on Asterope.

“If I buy you, you will owe me. You will work for me night and day until the money is earned back. You will do exactly what I tell you when I tell you. If I tell you to offer someone a poisoned glass of wine, you will do it without hesitation. If I tell you to lay on your back and be complacent while someone takes pleasure from your body to pay a debt for me, you will do it…. and do it without question. Do you understand that? A thousand or more gold is a lot of coin. Your payoff time will not be quick nor easy, but it will be possible.” She said as coldly as she could muster.

And after saying that, she leaned a hip back on the counter and looked as casual as possible. Ebon was sitting slightly behind her and off to the left and set his jaw in a hard line, the shock in his gaze covered as quickly as it fleeted across his face. For a moment he stared at Kelski as if he absolutely didn’t know who she was.

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They laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at them because they are all the same.
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Kelski
Freedom is earned. Fight for it.
 
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Joined roleplay: July 3rd, 2014, 11:08 pm
Location: Sunberth & Surrounding Areas
Race: Kelvic
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