Solo A New Perspective (Part I)

So move along with some new passion knowing everything will be fine.

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

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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 25th, 2019, 3:20 am

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42nd of Autumn, 519 AV

Alard had seemingly gotten over his intense mistrust of Aster ever since the...incident. Or at least it seemed so. Aster suspected it was less that he'd gotten over it, and more that he was tired of having to constantly watch her and having to run his own errands.

He'd begun to leave her alone at the apartment again to clean, though he always took care to lock the door now. And after he'd had her pick up an order of armour for him earlier in the season, a task that Aster was still certain he had wanted her to fail, he'd slowly been sending her out here and there for errands again as well. Cooking had never been something she'd had to do for him, as he preferred to have his meals at the Gold Lodge, but things like bread, cheese, and wine were a must to keep in the apartment; and why should he do such menial shopping when he had a slave?

Half the time, he seemingly had no idea what to do with her. He was a terrible slave master, really. Aster was convinced by now that he had only bought her for the bragging rights; look at the gold he could afford to spend on a slave, and look how exotic and lovely she was! When it came down to it, he seemed annoyed or inconvenienced by her presence more than anything most of the time.

With a sigh, Aster brushed the thoughts away and slid the coins that Alard had given her over to the woman behind the counter. Aster had never caught her name, but she was tall and well-muscled with a thick accent that Asterope couldn't place. She handed over some cheese, bread, and dried jerky in exchange that Aster placed in her bag. "Thank you," Aster said, with a nod, and the woman grunted and waved goodbye as she left the Baker's Butchery and Bakeshop.

Across the street, a small group of ragtag children were gathered at the mouth of an alley. Aster couldn't hear what they were saying, but they seemed to be in an intense discussion. One of them, a young boy, glanced up and met her gaze; he scowled at her, and Aster turned away. She knew from experience that even the children in Sunberth were not safe from violence, and likely not from inflicting it either.

Deciding to take the slightly longer way back around to avoid a shouting match up the street that would no doubt evolve into a brawl, Aster began to walk, keeping the bag in her arms close to her and double-checking that the small coin pouch Alard had given her was still in her pocket every so often. There were only a few silver mizas left in it, but he would be far from happy if she returned having been robbed.

Word Count: 478
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Asterope
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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 26th, 2019, 4:42 am

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Crossing the river didn't take long, and Aster followed the main road, her hands still checking her belongings every so often. She hesitated, her steps slowing slightly as the road took her past Slaver's Row. She didn't often come this way, and when she did, she usually kept her head down and avoided looking at the buildings that filled that section of the city; she knew the slave market was slightly further in.

It seemed like it was forever ago that she had first walked the road in chains, but she remembered the path distinctly. Aster found herself stopping to peer down towards the slave market; she wasn't sure what possessed her to do so. It wasn't a place that she thought of fondly. From where she stood, she could make out some of the tents and cages and the wooden stages. It made her stomach turn. How long had it been since she had been there herself? How long had she been a slave to Sunberth?

Her thoughts were cut off by the feeling of someone snatching the bag she held; lost in though as she was, she'd dropped her arms to her sides. Aster let out a startled shout as a small figure whipped past her, sprinting away and clutching the bag of food.

"Hey! Come back," Aster shouted, and without thinking about it, took off after the child. She sprinted after the child, her feet pounding the dirt as she fought to keep up; they were fast, running with the practiced ease of someone who was used to being chased.

Aster could have sworn she heard a giggle from ahead of her as she chased the thief into the slave market. Abruptly realizing where she was, Aster skidded to a halt, eyes wide, and froze. Surrounding her were tents and cages full of people in chains and collars, slaves like her. She swallowed hard, and her brain kicked back into gear, urging her to keep moving. A few people were looking at her curiously, some slaves and others not, and she didn't know how much protection her collar would really afford her here.

Gritting her teeth, Aster forced herself to keep walking. The market was busy, slavers and sellers talking and laughing and bargaining. On a stage across the market, Aster could glimpse a handful of people standing, and heard shouting as bidding began. Cages littered the market, and listless people of all races and genders and ages filled them, covered in dirt and filth.

She couldn't keep from looking at them, a dawning sense of dread and horror filling her the more she saw; she'd been spared from the worst of it last time, she hadn't been in the market for long and she'd been on one of the stages. Down walking on the ground among the enslaved, the gritty reality was impossible to ignore.

Some people wept, quietly or openly. Most sat and stared listlessly, or lay down, perhaps sleeping. There was more than one person who Aster feared might just simply be dead, flies buzzing around their filthy, grime covered bodies. It was horrifying in a way she couldn't describe.

She could feel tears stinging her eyes even as her stomach churned, and she choked down a sob, hunching her shoulders up around her ears. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a small figure; the child that had stolen her bag was slipping through the crowd towards the edge of the market.

Word Count: 583
Total: 1,061
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Asterope
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Posts: 505
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 26th, 2019, 4:44 am

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Aster altered her course, not running but picking up speed slightly, and focused her gaze on the child's tiny frame, blocking out the sight of the caged people around her. The child seemed to think they had lost her, because they were no longer running; Aster hung back, following.

A few cages were out towards the edge of the market, clearly the less desirable, few paying any attention to them. The child slowed as they approached one of the cages; Aster could see a thin figure in rags curled up in the corner. The child approached, and poked the figure, which stirred slowly. The child plopped down cross-legged, and dug a hunk of cheese out of the bag, breaking off a piece and offering it through the bars.

Aster approached cautiously, and the child's head whipped up; this close now, Aster could see they were a girl, with wide honey brown eyes and a short mess of blonde and pink-ish hair, her fair skin covered in dirt.

"You!" The girl said, accusingly, clutching the bag to her chest. "Go away! This is mine, I stole it from you fair and square!" She didn't seem particularly frightened of Aster, just annoyed; even children could tell she was an easy target, it seemed.

The figure in the cage, an old woman covered in filth with ragged grey hair, turned her weathered face to Aster and cackled at the Eth's expression, flashing her few remaining teeth. "Really, Imogen," she scolded the girl, "You should know better than to let your target follow you. What if it was someone dangerous?"

That was just rude. "I could be dangerous," Aster objected, feeling strangely offended. "You don't know that." The two swiveled their heads to look at her again, the old woman cackling once more as even the girl, Imogen, burst into giggles.

Aster flushed and did her best to look disapproving and intimidating as she scowled down at the girl, folding her arms over her chest and straightening her posture. "Give me back my food."

Imogen peered up at Aster, handed the old woman the piece of cheese she had broken off, and then took a large bite from the hunk herself. "No," she said, her mouth full, and the woman almost choked on her own portion as she snickered again, gleefully.

Aster was at a loss. She was hardly about to threaten a child; besides, she got the feeling that the girl could somehow probably beat her in a fight without even breaking a sweat. All in all, being robbed could have gone a lot worse, but she would still have to deal with Alard when she returned later.

Instead, she changed the subject. "You stole food to give it to a slave?" That was curious; people looked out for themselves in Sunberth. For the girl to go through the trouble of stealing her food only to share it with an old slave woman locked in a cage...it was an oddity.

Imogen shrugged, seemingly unperturbed. "I bring her food sometimes and she tells me stories in exchange. It's better fun than chasing those big dumb brats with sticks."

"Oh, I'm so glad you think so highly of my stories," the woman said dryly, shuffling around as she settled back down into her corner. Aster could hear the creak of her joints from where she stood.

"Will you be joining us, my dear?" The woman asked Aster, catching her off-guard.

"Sorry, what?" She stammered, looking from the beaming little girl to the frail old woman.

"For the story, of course," the woman chuckled. Aster opened her mouth, paused, and then found herself nodding. She sat in the dirt next to Imogen, who was gnawing on a strip of her jerky, but she only grinned with her mouth full at Aster when the Eth half-halfheartedly glared at her. If it wasn't for the repercussions she might face from Alard, she wouldn't really care. It was clear that the skinny little girl needed the food.

Word Count: 668
Total: 1,729
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Asterope
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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 26th, 2019, 5:20 am

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The old woman told a story that Aster suspected was from experience; likely embellished to entertain Imogen, of course, but Aster could only assume from the wistful sighs and small smile on her wrinkled face that what she spoke of was largely her own truth.

It was a romantic tale of bravery, of a young girl who got lost and injured in the woods, and was certain she would face her death; but she was saved by a huge wolf who could turn into a woman, and from then on the two were inseparable, and they had many adventures together.

Imogen was enraptured. Even Aster found herself leaning in to hear the old woman's words more clearly. There was sadness in the old woman's milky eyes as she finished the story.

"What happened to the wolf woman?" Aster asked, after a long moment.

"The two were separated, I'm afraid. They were ambushed one day on their travels, and the wolf woman perished protecting her bonded to the very end." Aster could hear the pain in the old woman's voice.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I can't imagine what it's like to lose someone so close to you."

The woman chuckled, sounding tired. Imogen was quietly and thoughtfully gnawing on a second strip of jerky. "Have you never lost anyone close to you?" The woman asked, and there was something wise in her voice, but Aster shook her head.

She had lost Syna, but she couldn't remember the sun goddess as a loving companion; she was more of a presence. She had lost Navi, true, but even that bond seemed pale in comparison to what had just been described to her. "I don't have anyone to lose," Aster said, with a rueful smile.

"Oh, my dear. I'm so very sorry," the old woman seemed surprised. "Loss is such a deep, wounding pain, but to have the privilege to love someone enough in the first place that losing them hurts...it is far, far more worth dealing with that wound than to not love at all."

Aster was quiet, mulling the words over. She thought of Nara, and Penny, and Madeira, the only people in her life she had ever really considered her friends, perhaps even family in some cases. Suddenly, she felt very, very lonely.

As if sensing it, the old woman smiled at her gently. "Tell me about the people you've left behind," she said, and Aster could feel Imogen watching her too. So she began to talk, uncertainly at first and then more sure.

She spoke of Nara and Inyel and the others of the pavilion, but especially of Nara; the woman who taught her what she knew, who gave her a purpose. She spoke of Navi, her constant companion, taken from her. She spoke of Penny, a bright and cheerful girl that Aster had adored, and wondered how she was faring. She even spoke briefly of Madeira, who she had been coming to consider a friend when she had left Alvadas.

"Why do you sound so sad when you speak of them?" The old woman prompted.

"I...I don't know. I miss them. I wonder what could have been," Aster admitted, looking down at the ground.

Word Count: 535
Total: 2,264
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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
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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 26th, 2019, 5:39 am

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"Perhaps," the woman said, "Instead of missing them, you should remember them fondly. Why dwell on the pain of separation when you have those wonderful memories to keep you company?"

Aster opened her mouth to say something as she looked up again, and then shut it with a soft click. Why? Because the pain was more intense than the joy. It was right there, it was easier to feel, easier to dwell in.

But...there had been good memories, with the people she'd met and grown close to. A sense of warmth filled her chest as Aster remembered fondly the first time Nara tried to teach her to wrap a bandage properly.

Without her, she would know nothing about herbalism or medicine. She would have no calling.

She thought of the warmth of Navi in bed, laughing and playing with the unruly dog. She thought of running through an ever-changing maze with Penny, of tracking down a murderer with Madeira...

And she felt grateful for them. The things she'd learned from them, the brief moments of happiness and fun and laughter, the allyship and even friendship; how lonely she would have been without them. It was a bright spot to look back on among the darkness that had been her life for seemingly so long now.

"It doesn't mean the loss isn't there," the woman spoke up again. "But don't let that force you to forget the happy times, the things those people did for you."

Aster nodded. "I'm lucky to have met them at all," she murmured. If Alvadas had taught her anything, it was that life, the world, was crazy and unpredictable. How different would her life have been if Inyel had never taken her in, or if she had fallen somewhere else and not gotten so lucky as to meet someone as kind as him?

She was suddenly aware of the incredibly flimsy nature of fate, and how easily it could change. And truly, she had been lucky, and she was grateful for where she had ended up all things considered. What if she had ended up in Sunberth from the start? If she'd been forced to be a slave without having ever experienced those moments of happiness, love, companionship...Aster knew she wouldn't have survived it.

It made her all the more grateful for the friends she'd met and the family she'd made, no matter how brief. And looking at the old woman sitting in the corner of her cage, having walked through the slave market...

A strange mix of guilt and thankfulness warred inside Aster's chest. She was so miserable, so hopeless, acting helpless and feeling awful for herself when there were people like this woman, stuck in cages, filthy and with no hope of ever getting out.

She could have been in a much worse situation. If she wasn't what she was, wasn't celestial and ethereal and shining with Syna's light, if she just always looked like her mortal form...things would have been different, surely. Would she still be here? Stuck in a cage? Slowly rotting, covered in dirt and flies?

It was almost humbling; an uncomfortable sort of thankfulness, that she was lucky enough to have escaped such a fate. Because how could she be grateful for that when she was watching the suffering she could have endured unfold in front of her?

Word Count: 558
Total: 2,822
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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
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Medals: 5
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A New Perspective (Part I)

Postby Asterope on November 26th, 2019, 5:45 am

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She wished there was something she could do to help. Once again, as if reading her thoughts, the old woman spoke up. "Thank you both for coming to visit. An old lonely hag like me enjoys some company every so often, gods know these so called guards aren't good company." She let out a chuckle that turned into a hoarse cough.

"Ah, but I'm afraid I've outdone myself today. I spoke too much. Thank you for the cheese, though, Imogen. And thank you too," she chuckled, winking at Aster. "But now I need my rest, and I'm afraid if you two stay any longer you'll be getting some angry words at the least. Go on now, scram, you youngsters." The old woman motioned with a bony hand for them to leave, and Aster rose to her feet.

She realized belatedly that she had never introduced herself to the old woman, or received her name in return, but her eyes were shut and judging by the soft snorting, she was already asleep.

"She does tell very good stories," Aster finally said, glancing down at Imogen. "Is that really why you bring her food?"

"Yea," the girl said. "Why else would I give some old lady in a cage food? I'm not dumb, I gotta eat too." The girl huffed, seemingly offended by Aster's suggestion.

"Well," Aster said. "It's still nice of you to do. I don't know that she'd last much longer otherwise."

Imogen shrugged. "She probably won't last much longer 'nyway. She's pretty old, and she's not doing too good. So I come see here when I can. Her stories are the best, I'll miss them."

"Will you miss her?" Aster couldn't help but ask; the girl was puzzling, neatly fitting yet contradicting everything she thought she knew about the people of Sunberth all at once.

"A little," Imogen shrugged again. "But what good is that gonna do me? People die and then they're gone and there's nothin' you can't do about it. Being sad doesn't help nobody." The words were said bluntly; not uncaringly, but matter of factly. It was unsettling, almost painful to hear from a child.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Imogen swearing. That wasn't something Aster was used to hearing from children either, but her reprimand went ignored aside from an eyeroll.

"I'm supposed to go 'nd see Miss Jala today! I'm gonna be late," she hurriedly knotted her stolen bag, and then paused, eyeing Aster critically. She seemed to be thinking something over; apparently, she made her decision, as she asked, "Wanna come with?"

Aster blinked. Come with? Where? Who was Miss Jala? The questions swarmed in her mind. She was going to be late getting back if she went with Imogen, no doubt. Alard would already be upset about the missing food. And why did she want Aster to go with her anyway? Was she leading her into some kind of trap? There was a glint of something mischievous and cunning in the girl's eyes as she waited for an answer; there was a reason she was asking, that much was for certain.

But instead of asking the million questions she had, instead of letting her worries or doubts cloud her mind, Aster inhaled, and made a quick, spur of the moment decision. "Okay," she said, simply, and followed Imogen out of the slave market.

(Continued in A New Perspective Part II*)

Word Count: 561
Total: 3,383
Image

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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