Solo Fatal Flaw (Part II)

One mistake could risk it all, and cost everything.

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

Fatal Flaw (Part II)

Postby Asterope on April 2nd, 2019, 1:07 am

22nd of Spring, 519 AV

(Continued from Fatal Flaw Part I*)

The darkness was pervasive. It was everywhere. The small space had grown warm from Aster's heat and her quickened breathing, making the air stale; but it wasn't the sort of heat that was comforting. It felt thick and clammy, and she could feel the sheen of sweat on her face, her neck, her arms; even the palms of her hands felt damp.

She'd done her best to ignore it; keeping her eyes squeezed shut, focusing her thoughts elsewhere, even if they were dismal and hopeless. Squeezing her fingers that were grasped around her horn every so often, a reality touchstone, a reminder of some sort.

But then night came. Aster had no idea how much time had passed, couldn't see the sky to know what time it was; but she recognized the setting of the sun on a deep and instinctual level. She felt it within her, felt the shift, physically and spiritually. There was a faint glow from her skin as the sun sank beyond the horizon. It was almost blinding, after so many hours of darkness, but it faded just as quickly, and she was left with her hand grasping at thin air over her head.

The panic resurfaced in her all over again; her chest tightened, constricting, her breathing stuttering and catching in her throat. She couldn't breathe, oh gods, she couldn't breathe. Aster scrabbled at the walls around her, nails scraping on the wood, trying to push them away from her as she gasped for air, choking on her sobs.

A deep-seated part of her watched it all and felt disgust; shame for the pathetic and fearful thing she'd become, just from being locked in darkness for a few bells. No wonder Syna no longer answered her. She was weak, physically, mentally, in every sense of the word.

But Asterope was too busy panicking to pay attention to the small, detached part of herself watching it all happen. A half sob shook her frame as she pressed further down into the corner, wrapping her arms around her head. She could have sworn she heard something scraping, scrabbling in the corner; it was a memory she never looked back on, but it resurfaced now with a violence to it. Giant centipedes, crawling over her in the wet stone prison.

It's not real, it can't be, she tried to reason with herself, but the images were persistent in her mind. She knew it was impossible, but it was just one more oppressive thing about the closet for her to fear.

Pathetic, a voice that almost wasn't her own sneered at her. No wonder Syna abandoned you. Aster shook her head, hands clamping over her ears. The thoughts weren't new to her, but they seemed almost disconnected from herself; she'd experienced it before, once, in Alvadas. But that was in the city of illusions. Now she was in Sunberth. Was she going crazy, left alone in the darkness?

But no, they were her own thoughts; her own failures and doubts, coming out of the darkness unwarranted and unwanted, without cue, to snap at her in her weakest moment like vicious dogs tearing into their prey. Her insecurities took advantage of her fragile, broken state to come to the surface. They were her own thoughts, just the ones she so rarely let loose, that she never dared dwell on. Now she had no choice in the matter.

Word Count: 570
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Asterope
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Posts: 388
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
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Fatal Flaw (Part II)

Postby Asterope on April 2nd, 2019, 1:33 am

She was so caught up in her own little world inside of the darkness, Aster didn't hear the front door of the apartment click open. Nor did she hear the approaching footsteps; but she did hear the wardrobe doors unlock.

How long had it been? How much time had passed since she'd first been put into the closet, since she'd shifted into her mortal form? It was impossible to say. Huddled back in the corner of the wardrobe, Asterope flinched when the doors opened, throwing her arm up to shield her face.

The only light coming in from the apartment was from the lit hearth, but even that seemed unbearably bright after sitting in complete darkness for so long. She blinked rapidly, squinting at the vague form of Alard standing in front of the wardrobe as she tried to make her eyes adjust, sniffling once or twice as her sobs subsided.

She recoiled when Alard reached out to touch her; the panic of being locked in the small, dark space was subsiding slowly now that the doors were open and she could see, but that didn't mean she wanted to be handled. And by Alard, of all people. Another small sob escaped her, one of more relief than anything this time as her eyes began to adjust to the light, and she inhaled deeply. The air of the apartment was stale by all other accounts, but to Aster in that moment, it was the freshest she'd ever breathed.

"Aw, come on now, sunshine. Don't be like that," Alard coaxed her, crouching down slightly. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Aster registered it as the same sort of behaviour she would use on a scared or injured animal, or perhaps even a child. Low to the ground, hand outstretched, voice soft; as nonthreatening as possible.

It made her sick. Yet after so long spent huddled in the darkness, alone and trembling, the promise of comfort was too much. Even from the one who had put her there in the first place. Aster shakily uncurled from herself, trying to move from her spot; but her ankle protested sharply, and her bottom and legs were numb and tingly, having gone to sleep from being in one position for so long. If she'd been upright, she was sure she would have fallen over.

Alard chuckled, as if the whole situation was endearing and amusing, as if he was watching an infant try to walk for the first time. "Come on, let's get you out of there." He stood, leaning down to pick Aster up, and she let him, going limp in his arms.

He couldn't help but smirk as he carried her over to the bed, setting her down. His main reason for locking the Eth in the closet had been to drive home the lesson he'd taught her, let her reflect on things. The secondary reason had been so that he could be totally sure she wouldn't try and get away again. But another side effect, one he hadn't even considered but that was perhaps the best of them all, was that she now seemed broken.

He hadn't been expecting that; she had enough fight in her that never in a million years did Alard think just locking her in a wardrobe for a few bells would seemingly traumatize her so thoroughly. But he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth; he could use that. Make her dependent on him. Break her then comfort her; and he wouldn't hesitate to do it again in the future, now that he was seeing the results.

But he kept it to himself, instead sitting on the bed beside Aster, running a hand gingerly over her hair, mindful of the bump on the back of her head from their earlier scuffle. "I'm sorry sunshine," he crooned, "I didn't mean to upset you so much."

Liar, Aster thought, but it was weak. He was lying, and she knew it; but he was a person, and he was warm, and he was there and comforting her. Before she knew it, Aster was curled up with her head in Alard's lap, sobbing as she clutched at his shirt, releasing the pent-up anger, frustration, fear, and loneliness that had overwhelmed her in the darkness of the closet.

Word Count: 721
Total: 1,291
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Asterope
Shining light
 
Posts: 388
Words: 355388
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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Fatal Flaw (Part II)

Postby Asterope on April 2nd, 2019, 2:25 am

After some time, her sobs dwindled down to small hiccups, and then just sniffling, and then finally silence. Aster reached a hand up to rub roughly at her face, wiping the tears from her eyes. Alard was leaned back against the wall, humming something as he continued to stroke a hand over Aster's hair.

She tried to push herself up, ashamed by her own behaviour, disgusted that she was so desperate for comfort that she willingly had her head in Alard's lap, but he pushed her back down. After a moment of resistance, Asterope dropped her head back down, too tired to fight it. The warmth, despite everything, was still comforting. That was perhaps the worst part of it all.

"There's a good girl. Just relax," Alard spoke easily. "Tomorrow we'll have that ankle looked at, alright?" Aster was silent for a long moment. There was something wrong, but she couldn't tell what it was exactly. She felt like a mouse being toyed with by a cat, as if it was letting her scurry back and forth but was ready to trap her within its claws at any moment; and Alard, of course, was the grinning feline.

"Alright," she acquiesced after another beat of silence. That seemed to be the correct response, because Alard gave her head a gentle pat.

"Good girl," he repeated, seeming inordinately pleased with himself. The praise left a sour taste in Aster's mouth. She tensed when Alard leaned down, pressing his mouth against her temple in a kiss. Nausea filled her stomach; if she'd had the energy and wasn't injured, Aster would have jerked away and scrambled off the bed.

Alard stroked his other hand over her flank as if he was stroking a pet, mindful of her burn. It made Asterope's skin crawl, and she closed her eyes, trying to block it out. Just like she had done in the closet. Pretending it wasn't happening, feigning ignorance to try and protect herself.

But Alard seemed content to leave it at that for the moment, a small miracle amidst the disaster of that day. "I have to say, sunshine, I do so prefer you like this. So quiet and complacent," he admired, straightening up again, resting his hand on her side.

His voice told it as a compliment, but to Aster, it hit her like a hammer, driving home the nail points of her failures. Quiet and complacent; a good little slave, because he owned her. Weak. Useless.

"Can I have some water, please?" Aster croaked out, after a moment. Her throat felt parched from all the hyperventilating and crying, and it was as good an excuse as any to force Alard away from her, to make him stop touching her, even for a few moments.

"Please what?" Alard reminded her; his voice was still gentle, but she sensed the warning in the words.

"Please, sir, can I have some water," Aster repeated, dully. Alard smiled down at her, patting her cheek, and lifted her head off his lap to stand and fetch the pitcher of water and cup he kept on the bedside table.

Aster was acutely aware of the fact that he only poured half a glass before handing it to her. "Thank you, sir," she mumbled, forcing the words out; they felt like a physical thing stuck in her throat.

The Eth sipped at the water; it was lukewarm, and tasted a bit metallic, but in that moment it was better than anything Aster had ever tasted. She drained the cup quickly and handed it back to Alard, who then returned to bed.

"See? Look what it gets you, when you're a good girl. When you're polite and do as you're told," Alard said, as he sat back down. Aster only nodded. Her mouth still felt sticky, and her throat was still dry, but she didn't dare ask for more.

Word Count: 648
Total: 1,939
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Asterope
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Posts: 388
Words: 355388
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
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Fatal Flaw (Part II)

Postby Asterope on April 2nd, 2019, 3:13 am

Alard stretched his arms above his head, stripping his shirt off and dropping it onto the floor beside the bed. "Now then. I think that's enough excitement for one day, don't you?" He addressed Aster; she wasn't sure if it was a rhetorical question or if he expected a response, so she nodded again.

Kicking off his pants as well, leaving him in his underclothes, Alard motioned for Asterope to get into the bed. She furrowed her brow, glancing back and forth between the bed and Alard, uncertain; she normally slept on the cot by the hearth.

"Don't get me wrong, sunshine. I think you've quite learned your lesson, and I don't see you going anywhere on that ankle. But I'm not letting you five feet from me for the next little while if I can help it," Alard shrugged. "So get into bed."

Aster reluctantly shifted, tugging the blankets down and crawling beneath them. Alard joined her, splaying out on his stomach; Asterope grimace and shifted over closer to the wall, pressing against it as much as she could without forcing her legs into an uncomfortable position.

Alard took up a lot of space sleeping and was unused to a bed companion, it seemed; at least when it came to actually sleeping. It didn't seem to bother him, but Aster wanted as little contact with him as possible.

Alard glanced over at Aster as the Eth settled in for the night, turning her back to him and tucking her arms to her chest, legs positioned carefully due to her injured ankle. He smirked at her back; again, it came down to the fact that while he wasn't lying, there were other motives for his actions.

This was what he had wanted out of a slave all along; and now he had the opportunity to create it. He was determined to make Asterope as dependent on him as possible, and more so, to make her enjoy it.

He didn't expect it would be easy, but the day had been an exceptionally solid start. Still smirking, Alard closed his eyes, drifting into sleep easily.

Sleep, however, didn't come so easily for Asterope. She tried not to shift around too much, not wanting to wake Alard; but she was restless, despite her exhaustion. She could see moonlight, pale and white, streaming in through the window.

She focused her gaze on it; it wasn't as comforting as sunlight, but it was better than nothing. I'm sorry, she whispered inside her head, not sure who exactly she was apologizing to. Perhaps herself. Perhaps Anja, and Crylon, and Kelski, those who had helped her so selflessly even in such a dark city.

Perhaps Syna, and Yahal, and Priskil, those who she had put her faith in, who she strove to believe in even when things seemed so bleak.

It didn't particularly matter; none of it did, in the end. She had let them all down, herself included. Acceptance was like a stone weighing in her chest as Aster turned her head away, looking away from the moonlight. She had tried, she had tried so damned hard, only to fall what felt like miles deeper into the hole where she'd started.

Clawing out of it now felt impossible. A deep part of her knew that those she had failed would not give up on her so easily; that Nara would smack her silly for lying down and giving up. But it was too much; too much to think about, to deal with. At least right now.

Aster closed her eyes, her heart heavy. She had found hope again before; even though things felt infinitely worse, perhaps she would again. It was a laughable thought, and if it was true, it seemed so far off that it might as well not even exist. But she tucked the thought away in a corner of her mind to revisit if and when she had the strength.

For now though, she was exhausted, and she was tired of fighting. She would play her role, accept her part for the time being. It was easier that way. Uneasy, beaten, and exhausted, the Eth slowly drifted off into sleep.

Tomorrow was another day; and if not tomorrow, then there was the day after, and the day after, and the day after. Even if she'd given up now, if she was alive, then there was hope; no matter how deeply buried and seemingly impossible to find.

She just had to remember, to realize that. If she didn't, then she had no chances of escaping the life she found herself in.

Word Count: 768
Total: 2,707
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
Shining light
 
Posts: 388
Words: 355388
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 5
Featured Thread (1) Mizahar Grader (1)
Overlored (1) Alvadas Seasonal Challenge (1)
Power Fork (1)


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