Solo In the Dead of Night (Part I)

When the ghosts and monsters come out to play...

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

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In the Dead of Night (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 12:50 am

6th of autumn, 519 AV

The night was foggy and cold, inconsistent with the warm weather that had been plaguing the city, telling of yet another approaching winter without Morwen's presence. Alard had been subdued that day; Aster could see the telltale signs of illness in him with the way he was sniffling constantly and wiping his nose, letting out an occasional wet cough, but she kept her mouth shut. He didn't like being seen as weak, and besides, the longer he held onto his pride and didn't ask her for help, the longer she got to watch him suffer what was probably just a seasonal cold.

Was it petty of her? Absolutely, but she had learned to take the little victories.

They had spent the evening both sitting close to the lit and blazing hearth, Alard with a flask and her with a cup of watery tea made from stale herbs that had been sitting in the back of the closet, and Asterope had only half-listened as Alard rambled on and on, complaining about one thing or another.

Soon enough, even he had grown tired of listening to his own voice, and he'd snuffed out the fire and crawled into bed. He had taken to forcing Aster to share his bed and sometimes his company, something that was always a literal battle, and a fact that only stoked the embers of bitter hatred that smoldered in her chest. But tonight he seemed to want his space. She was fine with that.

After finishing the last of her tea, she had crawled under the thin blanket on her cot, shivering as the heat from the now extinguished fire's heat slowly faded from the room. She stared blankly up at the ceiling for a long time, her thoughts churning. She was in a strange place. In many ways she'd become complacent again, quiet and doing mostly as she was told. She was tired. But there was something simmering beneath her sternum, deep in her chest, waiting and growing.

The burning of the cursed bone that had accompanied her since Alvadas had lifted a weight off her; she had felt the difference, both sudden and gradual, since that moment. She no longer felt quite so hopeless; now it was question of biding her time and figuring out a plan, and keeping herself alive in the meanwhile. And alive, right now, meant complacent...at least for the most part.

It was still tiring. She still wondered if it wouldn't be better to die fighting tooth and nail, but she waved the question out of her mind and closed her eyes. She needed to rest. It didn't take her long to drift off, the only sound the creaking of the building settling and the hooting of a lone owl outside somewhere. She dreamed uneasily of flying creatures and brands pressed into her hands.

Word Count: 473
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Last edited by Asterope on November 5th, 2019, 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Asterope
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In the Dead of Night

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 1:35 am

Thump, thump, thump. ...A pause. Bang. The screech of a creaking door whose hinges desperately needed oiling, infinitely loud in the silence of the night. A tense and brimming silence for one moment, then another, and then a blood-curdling scream, followed by a sob that was cut off abruptly, and more silence.

Aster sat stone still on her cot, clutching the blanket to her chest; she was holding her breath, her heart racing and pulse hammering in her ears, her knuckles bone white from how tightly she held the covers. The silence continued, stretching on and on, and finally she let out a slow and shaky breath.

The thumps had woken her from her fitful sleep; a minor annoyance, she had assumed it was a drunk gang member stumbling down the hall, coming home late. The sudden bang had surprised her, so loud it seemed to make the floors beneath her shake. Just as Aster slowly lowered the blanket from where it was clutched to her breast, a shield between her and the darkness, shrieking laughter erupted from somewhere within the building.

It was deafening, shrill and malicious, and it was impossible to tell where it came from; it seemed to echo all around her. Aster started, letting out a whimper of fright as she scrambled off of her cot; the floor was cold beneath her bare feet, but she hardly noticed as she fled to Alard's bed. It wasn't a fact that she was proud of, but adrenaline and terror were rushing through her veins.

"Alard," she whispered loudly, as she practically dove onto the bed, only to plant her face into the pillows when instead of being stopped by a solid body, she met empty mattress. A sound of confusion left the Eth's mouth as she pushed herself up, staring blankly at the empty bed around her. Between the terror cold in her stomach and the remnants of sleep still struggling to shake from her brain, it took her mind a moment to process what she was seeing, and what it meant.

The bed was empty. Alard was gone. Bewildered now, Aster swiveled her head, scanning the room. It was difficult to see in the darkness, but the room wasn't overly large; unless he was hiding in the wardrobe or the small built-in closet, Alard was not in the room.

Granted, the coward he actually was, those weren't far-fetched ideas. The laughter had stopped, though it still rung in Aster's ears. Cautiously, she crawled off the bed, and padded over to the wardrobe. Cracking the door open, she peered inside. Only blackness greeted her. The closet yielded the same result. Alard was well and truly gone.

"Where is he?" She whispered to herself, swallowing hard. Had the sounds she'd heard been an actual tangible threat? Perhaps instead of hiding away he had decided to go face them. She would have heard him get up and leave though, surely...but perhaps the strange noises covered it up?

Worrying her lower lip between her teeth, Aster approached the front door of the apartment; she touched the doorknob, and to her shock, the door simply swung open. The hinges creaked, but softly, a far cry from whatever door had practically shrieked as it was opened before.

The hall was dim, but better lit than the apartment, with the occasional torch along the wall lighting it. Aster stared out into the hallway, trepidation churning in her gut. She took a moment to steel herself, inhaling deeply and squaring her shoulders before stepping forward and poking her head out, peering into the hall first down one way and then the other.

Word Count: 607
Total: 1,080
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Asterope
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In the Dead of Night

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 1:39 am

It was empty and silent. Shadows danced along the walls as the flames from the torches flickered, but there was no movement aside from that, not even a rat scurrying across the stone floor. Somehow, it wasn't reassuring.

Aster stepped out into the hallway cautiously, the stone rough and freezing beneath her bare feet; a breeze drifted by from somewhere, making her shiver and wrap her arms around herself tightly, still dressed in only a short and rather flimsy nightgown.

Inhaling and forcing herself to be brave, Aster cleared her throat and called out tentatively and warily. "H-hello? Is anyone there?" She cursed internally at her stutter, her voice coming out much thinner and higher-pitched than she would have liked.

Silence was the only response. Frowning, Aster took a few more steps out into the hall, and then nearly jumped into the air when the door to the apartment behind her slammed shut abruptly, causing a gust of air to whip around her. "Petch," she swore, with a gasp, something she rarely did, hand clutching her chest.

"Just the wind," she reassured herself out loud with a tiny laugh. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled; why did she feel like she was being watched? Was there a ghost in the barracks, she wondered, remembering the telltale signs of a haunting that she had experienced more than once. It wasn't impossible, but it didn't explain why Alard was missing and why the whole place suddenly seemed abandoned.

Aster reached for the door handle, but it didn't turn. She frowned, trying again, this time bumping her shoulder into the wooden door, but still it didn't move. The door was locked. Aster stared down at where her hand rested on the handle, dumbfounded.

It's probably just stuck, she thought, swallowing hard. And everyone else is just sleeping, I bet. Maybe there's someone outside I can get to help. Alard wouldn't be pleased, but it was better than standing around in the cold and, quite frankly, eerie hallway, all alone, just waiting and hoping someone would come by.

Wrapping her arms around herself again, Asterope set off down the hallway. Her bare feet made almost no noise on the stone, so the sudden sound of footsteps behind her was almost deafening. Whirling around, Aster opened her mouth to greet whoever it was, ready to chide them for scaring her no matter how high ranking a gang member they were...except the hallway was still empty.

The sound of footsteps continued towards her. At the far end of the hall, she saw the light of the torches flicker, and then abruptly go out, the next pair following suit not even half a tick later. The wave of darkness rushed down the hall towards her as the torches were extinguished pair by pair, the sound of footsteps continuing to approach, their pace never changing.

Aster had dealt with ghosts before, and they weren't as scary as one might think. But that had always been with the presence of an experienced spiritist by her side, never alone in the dead of night, and she had never seen a ghost do anything like this. What if it isn't even a ghost?

She turned and ran. She could hear the sound of flames going out behind her as she sprinted down the hall, bare feet pounding on the stone, and she pushed harder in a desperate attempt to outrun it, but she wasn't fast enough.

With a whoosh of fire going out, the torches around her went out, and so did all of the ones ahead of her, plunging her into complete darkness. Aster stumbled to a halt, breathing hard and fast, and then something cold slammed into her from behind and she was falling.

Word Count: 631
Total: 1,711
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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In the Dead of Night

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 2:59 am

She didn't hit the ground. Something cold closed over Aster's mind like a fog, and the feeling was vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place it...but then she was walking again. At least, she thought so. Her vision was blurring, her surroundings fading in and out.

The dark hallway, outside in the cold air and under the bright and shining full moon. Houses passing in a blur as her bare feet walked over dirt and cobblestone, drifting through an eerily empty city. Even at night there were usually people in the streets, vagabonds and miscreants and gang members working under cover of darkness, but tonight...only the shadows shifted and swayed around her, it seemed.

The cold and wet wood of a boat beneath her as she was ferried across the river. Aster strained to see the person who must be in charge of the boat, for surely no boat steered itself...and for a moment she thought she saw a figure, but then the clouds passed over the moon and plunged the world into darkness, and then she was walking along the streets again.

Stone changed to grass beneath her feet. A hilly landscape, the crash of the ocean nearby. She was outside of the city...stones rose up from the grass all around her, and it was still hard to see, to focus, but she recognized this place from seasons ago. The graveyard on the outskirts of the city, the Dust Bed.

Suddenly, everything came back into sharp focus, clarity descending on Aster's mind once again. She was standing on the highest point of the hills, on a ridge overlooking the cemetery itself, staring out towards the ocean. It was hard to see in the dark, but the light of the stars and the full moon glinted off the dark waters, letting her make out the endless expanse of crashing waves.

How had she gotten there? The walk, long as it was, was only a blur in her memory. Why was she there? The feeling of cold enshrouding her mind came back to her, and Aster startled with the sudden realization as she remembered where she had felt it before. Possession. So there was a ghost. But this time was so bizarre and different from the last time...perhaps a stronger ghost? Or maybe every one was different.

Her fear had largely ebbed, replaced by confusion and curiosity. She turned around, and was startled to find more of the graveyard stretching out before her; the ridge above the graveyard itself contained a veritable maze of crypts, winding up even steeper slopes. She hadn't noticed it the last time, and the only time until now, that she had been there.

Well, she had nowhere else to go. And clearly something, or someone, wanted her here for one reason or another...with no idea what she was doing, where she was going, or what she might be looking for, not even knowing why she was really there, Aster began to walk up one of the inclined paths lined by graves and crypts.

This part of the graveyard seemed different. There were statues, and the crypts had clearly been built with care, despite falling into disrepair, and the graves seemed to mostly be marked with inscriptions, unlike the Dust Bed below where graves were lucky to be marked with a spare loose stone.

It must be older, surely. Aster wondered who had originally started it, and when the habit of caring to remember the dead had left the city. She walked leisurely among the dead, curious, reading names on graves and crypts and taking the time to admire statues.

Curiously, and perhaps unsettlingly, claw marks marred the stone of many of the graves. Aster couldn't say what animal they might have come from; perhaps wolves, or bears, or some large cat? Either way, it made her uneasy, and they seemed to become more frequent the deeper and higher into the maze of graves she went. She was on high alert for any sounds, but aside from her own footsteps and the whistling of the wind among the grass, the graveyard was silent and seemingly deserted.

Continuing to wander and look, a faded name carved into a crypt suddenly caught Aster's attention, sending her stumbling and nearly falling over with how quickly she skidded to a halt. 'Craven', the name carved into the stone read, and Aster blinked up at it. Craven, as in Madeira Craven? Memories of the spiritist came back to her. Could it be a coincidence that she ended up here, perhaps on the whim of a spirit, only to come across the grave of someone who belonged to the same family as one of the two accomplished spiritists she'd met? The Cravens were a well-known family of spiritists, to boot...Aster didn't know much, but their manor in Alvadas and what little she had gleaned from her single visit there had told her that much.

But she was so far from Alvadas...what was a Craven doing buried in a crypt in Sunberth? Did they have their roots here, or was it a lone Craven who had settled themselves here for some reason? None of it really mattered, it had been a very long time since Aster had seen Madeira, and she doubted she would ever run into her again...but it was a surprise to be sure, and she couldn't help her curiosity.

After one last lingering look at the name, Aster turned to continue her walk, and shrieked as she almost fell over again, walking straight into a broad chest. She'd been so engrossed in her thoughts, she'd somehow entirely missed the approach of the man. Rough, calloused hands grabbed her arms to keep her from falling on her behind, and Aster stared up into the face of Jebediah. He was even taller and more imposing in her petite mortal form, and he seemed somehow more intimidating at night.

He glowered down at her; Aster swallowed hard. Perhaps he would have recognized her if it was during the day, for despite only having met him once her appearance was fairly distinct, but at night she would be a complete stranger to him.

"What in the petch are you doing out here, wandering around the petching ridge, in the middle of the gods damned petching night?" He snarled in a low voice, causing Aster to shrink in on herself. She immediately wrapped her arms around herself when he released them, suddenly realizing how cold she was, still dressed only in her nightgown. Jebediah glared down at her, his own arms folded across his chest, clearly waiting for an answer.

Word Count: 1,104
Total: 2,815
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
Character sheet
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Medals: 5
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In the Dead of Night

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 3:40 am

Asterope floundered beneath the graveyard keeper's dark and intense stare, searching for words. Finally, she squeaked out, "Because of a ghost?" She cringed slightly in advance, peering up at Jebediah and waiting.

His brow furrowed. "A ghost," he repeated, sounding skeptical, curious, and disbelieving all at once. Aster could only nod. "What are you talking about, girl," he growled, annoyed by the vague and confusing response.

Aster inhaled, and blurted out her story, starting from being woken in the barracks by the cacophony of terrifying and strange noises, and the building seemingly being abandoned, and then somehow ending up here, and how she was certain she'd been possessed by a ghost. "I don't know why me, or who they are, or why I'm here," she explained, slightly breathless from talking in such a rushed manner. "And I'm not a spiritist, but I've run into a few ghosts before, and I'm sure that's what it was." Well, that wasn't entirely true. But she didn't know what else it could be, to be honest.

Jebediah was silent, staring down at her. "Ghosts are strange and fickle creatures," he finally grunted. "Who knows. Personally it sounds to me like you had a nightmare and were sleepwalking," he held up his hand to silence Aster as she began to protest, scowling at her. "But it's not impossible. Whether it was a ghost or a bad dream though, you shouldn't be out here, especially at night. The ridge is dangerous. And you don't even have some petching shoes on."

Aster wanted to ask about why the ridge was dangerous, but Jebediah was muttering something about petching crazy women, so she simply frowned at him instead. "Come on," he grunted, after a moment. "Let's get you out of here, at least."

He brushed past Aster, beginning to walk down the sloped path the way she had come. Aster frowned at his broad retreating back, lingering and looking around. Surely she had to be there for a reason...she couldn't just leave, could she?

Word Count: 336
Total: 3,151
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
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Medals: 5
Featured Thread (1) Mizahar Grader (1)
Overlored (1) Alvadas Seasonal Challenge (1)
Power Fork (1)

In the Dead of Night

Postby Asterope on November 3rd, 2019, 6:32 pm

She didn't have time to debate for long. The sense of cold passed through her swiftly again, sudden and sharp, before a cold fog settled over Aster's mind. Last time, she had been so frightened that she hadn't been able to fight it, but this time she was more prepared.

Still, it was decidedly different from the last time she had experienced possession. The fog felt heavier, colder; it was harder to keep her focus, to stay in control of her own body. And whereas last time she had felt the emotions of the ghost, the anger and rage, as if through a thin pane of glass...this time Aster felt nothing. There was just a cold, silent chasm on the other side of the glass, and it scared her, but she steeled herself and reached out.

Hello? She sent the word out tentatively; the pressure bearing down on Aster's mind lightened slightly, as if in surprise. Silence stretched out for so long that Aster was convinced the ghost wouldn't respond, when finally, a quiet and feminine voice answered her, echoing in her mind.

Hello. She could feel the caution, the hesitance in the response. Down on the path, Aster could see Jebediah turning to look at her, annoyance clear as he called for her to follow him.

"Sorry," she called back. "I'm coming." The step she took forward was difficult as the ghost suddenly fought her movements, but Jebediah seemed satisfied and turned to keep walking.

No, the ghost said sharply. This way. Aster shifted her gaze unwillingly as the ghost wrested some control from her, shifting her sight to further up the path, towards where she'd been heading when she'd quite literally run into Jebediah.

"Why?" Aster asked, uncertainly. There was a pause, and then a heavy push in her mind that sent her staggering forward a step. It was a strange back and forth, the ghost taking control when it wanted but otherwise seemingly just along for the ride, allowing Aster to keep her senses this time.

You'll see. Please. Aster hesitated another moment, but her curiosity was too strong to ignore, and there was something pleading about the ghost's words. She sent one more glance back to Jebediah's retreating figure before she made up her mind, and darted up the path. She turned a corner around one of the crypts, vanishing into the maze of dead in the cold night, on some sort of quest for a strange ghost whispering directions into her mind.

What she would find, she had no idea, and a bizarre mix of trepidation and excitement warred inside of her chest, her adrenaline pumping and spurring her on, bare feet and cold skin forgotten as she ventured deeper into the graveyard.

(Continued in In the Dead of Night Part II*)

Word Count: 458
Total: 3,609
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (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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