Solo A New Perspective (Part II)

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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 II)

Postby Asterope on November 27th, 2019, 6:20 pm

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42nd of Autumn, 519 AV

(Continued from A New Perspective Part I*)

Imogen lead her quickly through the remaining cages, sparse as they were on the edge of the slave market, and Aster had to hurry to keep up with her, jogging every few steps to increase her pace; the girl moved fast for how small she was.

She lead Aster out towards the edge of the city, away from the clusters of buildings and out towards the grass and dirt that surrounded Sunberth; Aster could see the dense forest in the distance, and uneasiness swam in her gut as she wondered if she really was being lured into some sort of trap. But Imogen's large brown eyes peering up at her as she glanced back to tell Aster to hurry up held something in them that soothed the Eth's frayed nerves.

She couldn't say what it was, exactly. Excitement? Genuineness? Delight? Humour? Either way, there was a spark to them that Aster had noticed was severely lacking in many of the people in the city, even the children, and seeing it reassured her somewhat.

"So," Imogen drawled as they walked, finally deigning to slow her quick pace somewhat so that Aster could keep up. "What are you?"

The question was blunt, and caught Aster off-guard; but she couldn't help the smile she found curving her mouth. There was no denying Imogen's curiosity, and Aster could sense a kindred spirit in her in that regard. "Is that why you asked me to come with you?" She responded with a question of her own, amusement sparkling in her golden eyes and lacing her warm voice. "Because you're curious about me?"

"No," Imogen defended herself, perhaps slightly too quickly. "You don't know. Maybe I'm gonna rob you bling. 'Sides, you didn't answer my question." She frowned, not quite pouting but almost there.

"I think you've already managed that," Aster said wryly, but Imogen cast a pointed glance at her coin purse. Fair enough. Aster was silent for a long moment, and when Imogen opened her mouth, she held up a finger and motioned to her head with her other hand, indicating she was thinking. Imogen shut her mouth, though she look put-out.

"I am what is called an Ethaefal." She had never learned the name of her race, simply always known it.

"Eth-ee-full?" Imogen tried to repeat, looking bewildered. Aster hid her smile behind her hand, not wanting to offend the girl, and corrected her until she pronounced it correctly.

"I was..." How did she explain it? She could barely understand it herself, and any memories she had were more fragments of feelings, a sense of loss, than anything else. "I lived somewhere else. Somewhere not quite here. It was...with my goddess, Syna."

"The sun goddess?" Imogen perked up, looking curious and disbelieving all at once; the skepticism was clear in her face and voice.

Word Count: 471
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A New Perspective (Part II)

Postby Asterope on November 27th, 2019, 6:23 pm

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"The very same." Aster could count on one hand the people she'd explained this to; it seemed to hurt slightly less each time, but it was still difficult, and she found a familiar aching feeling in her chest as she continued.

"But something happened, and one day, I woke up falling. And I landed in the ocean. I didn't have a name, or clothes, and all I could remember was that I had been somewhere with my goddess' presence, and now I wasn't there and she was gone."

Imogen frowned, clearly mulling over the story and debating whether or not to believe it. "You don't remember nothing at all?"

Aster shook her head with a sad smile. "Nothing. I could walk, and talk, but there were many things I had to learn. I've only been here for a few years, and I'm afraid I still have much to continue learning."

"Hang on," Imogen interrupted, eyes wide. "Only a few years? But you're an adult!"

"I might look like one, but I've only been here for a handful of years. Maybe four by now? I've somewhat lost track," Aster admitted.

Imogen's expression was shifting from pure elated delight to suspicious irritation. "You're messin' with me," she accused. "There's no way I'm older than you!"

Aster couldn't help the small laugh that escaped her. "I suppose technically you are. I promise you I'm not messing with you or anything like that. It's the truth."

Imogen wrinkled her nose and squinted her eyes at Aster, stopping in her tracks to peer closely at the Eth, as if looking for a sign of being lied to; Aster raised her brows and looked down unblinkingly at the little girl, her face open and tired and sad but slightly amused all at once, and above all else, honest.

"...Sounds like somethin' out of a fairytale, like some kinda crazy story old lady Hattie would tell," Imogen finally said, doubtfully, but the way her shoulders fell and the suspicion in her face ebbed slightly told Aster she at least mostly believed her. They started walking again; in the distance, Aster could see shapes beginning to take form.

Aster could only assume Hattie was the old slave woman who had told them the story. "I'm gonna ask Miss Jala," Imogen announced, "and I'm gonna be real mad at ya if she says you're lying!"

There was that name again. "Who's this Miss Jala?" Aster asked, as they approached the steadily growing shapes. As they got closer, Aster could see that it was a huge mass of tents, built together to form some sort of miniature mock city.

"She's a friend of mine. She knew my mama, too. She lives in Tent City. Sometimes when I get some food or money I come see 'er, and we do some cookin' together. She teaches me a lil about cookin' and plants 'n stuff." Imogen shrugged, kicking a pebble in her path.

"I see. You're interested in plants?" Aster asked, interest piqued; but Imogen just pursed her lips and shrugged again, changing the subject.

"You gotta be real careful here. Tent City can be even worse than the city proper. People are real poor out here, and a lot of 'em can spot an outsider a mile away. They won't care if you're a slave to a gang," Imogen pointedly glanced down at Aster's hand. "They'll kill ya and take the clothes off your back."

Aster somehow got the feeling that the girl wasn't just trying to frighten her, and she swallowed nervously. Imogen continue, seemingly not noticing or caring about Aster's reaction and sudden palpable nerves. "Just stick close to me 'n ya should be fine. Try not to look too lost."

Well, she could probably do that. She'd had some practice with it within the city of Sunberth itself. Aster nodded, the tents now looming up in front of them, and followed Imogen into the veritable maze of tents and tarps.

Word Count: 662
Total: 1,133
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A New Perspective (Part II)

Postby Asterope on November 30th, 2019, 7:43 pm

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The inside of Tent City was a labyrinth of tents and tarps and other makeshift dwellings; the homes, or what passed for homes here, seemed to become more densely packed the deeper they went, Aster following Imogen's lead. People milled about doing their daily tasks, others wandering about.

Imogen hadn't been wrong; Sunberth was full of people who were poor, but it was worse here. People were dirty and visibly more wary, eyeing Aster suspiciously as she passed through, trying her best to keep her shoulders squared and stride purposeful as she followed close to Imogen.

They passed through without incident, thankfully. Here and there Aster could see crumbling stone as well, evidence of long forgotten and destroyed structures of some sort; towards the center, where more of the stone still stood, she could see a densely packed center of tents. Imogen lead her away from there, to the side; on the outskirts of the most densely packed part was a tent that Imogen was making a beeline for.

The tent itself was not all that different from any other that Aster had seen so far; but interestingly, she noticed the entrance was decorated with hanging bones and bundles of herbs. They swayed gently in the breeze, some of the bones clinking together quietly, like morbid wind chimes. The bizarre decor definitely piqued Aster's interest. A few feet away was a firepit which was crackling with lit flames, a pot hung over it, some liquid bubbling inside. Soup, maybe?

"Miss Jala," Imogen cried cheerfully, ducking through the tent's flaps without pause. "I'm here!"

Aster hesitated outside; should she wait? But she could hear Imogen and another woman's voice inside the tent, as if she was already forgotten, so with a deep breath Aster ducked into the tent. It took her eyes a moment to adjust; it was dimmer inside, though a few mismatched lanterns scattered the perimeter.

There was a cot in one corner with a chest nearby; a few shelving units scattered with assorted knickknacks, many of which looked suspiciously like bone. More herb bundles hung from the ceiling.

A circular table covered with a cloth sat in the center of the room; Imogen was perched on a chair, chattering excitedly to a woman who sat across from her. She had dark skin and hair and pale eyes, and she was nodding with a serious expression as she listened to Imogen. On the table in front of her was a mortar and pestle, where she was currently grinding something, a bundle of herbs sitting on the table.

"And who is your friend, Imogen?" The woman who must have been Jala asked, looking up as Aster entered.

"This is Aster," Imogen said, with a grin. Asterope had introduce herself on their walk by her full name, but the girl hadn't been able to pronounce it in its entirety.

"My name is Asterope," she corrected, clearing her throat slightly. "You must be Miss Jala?"

The woman snorted, setting her mortar and pestle aside as she stood, brushing her hands off on the front of her skirt. "Just Jala is fine. How did you meet this rascal?"

Aster explained the story of Imogen stealing her bag and chasing her through the slave market to the old woman's cage, and Jala looked more bemused and curious by the moment.

Word Count: 556
Total: 1,689
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Asterope
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A New Perspective (Part II)

Postby Asterope on November 30th, 2019, 7:46 pm

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"I see. Imogen, you know, you can't collect people too," Jala said, turning to the young girl.

"I was not!" Imogen protested, and Aster raised a brow, but neither elaborated. Instead, Jala clicked her tongue.

"Let me see you, girl. Any new scrapes I need to look at?" She crouched down to start looking over the girl's arms, pushing up her tattered dress to examine her shins and knees.

"No," Imogen protested, then let out a yelp.

"Then what is this?" Jala asked, and Aster could see a nasty gash on Imogen's thigh that Jala was examining. On instinct, Aster moved forward, dropping into a crouch as well.

"Imogen I have told you, you must come see me when you are hurt," Jala admonished. "Something like this especially! Do you want to get an infection and for me to have to cut your leg off? Or worse, you'll get sent to that doctor."

Imogen pouted, looking away, and didn't answer. Jala sighed. "Asterope, go in that chest over there. You'll find some jars with clear liquid, bring them here."

It felt a bit strange to be put into the position of helper, but Aster did as she was told, fetching the jars which she knew without even opening them to smell were full of harsh spirits meant to clean wounds. As she did so, Jala went to the wash basin in the corner to wash her hands.

Aster approached to do the same. "You know medicine?" She asked, peering at Jala curiously.

"I do," was the simple response. "You seem surprised," the dry comment followed it up, as Jala finished washing her hands.

"I haven't met many other people who know much about it here. Certainly not any who use it to help others," Aster explained. She didn't know much about Jala, but in that moment, she decided that she liked her immensely.

"Other? You know medicine too, then." It wasn't a question, and Jala was looking at her with raised brows. Aster nodded. The two returned to Imogen, who was sitting and still pouting. "A slave who knows medicine. How did you learn?"

And so as Jala cleaned and treated Imogen's wound and Aster helped by fetching her what she needed, she explained. It seemed there was a lot of reminiscing happening today.

"I was taught by a Drykas woman named Nara," Aster explained, watching Jala work. She moved confidently, and clearly knew what she was doing; perhaps she had a thing or two to teach Asterope as well.

"Not many people here know things about herbalism or medicine," Jala said, after a moment. "Many of them are forced to make the choice between suffering and dying, or going to see that doctor in the city...and he's probably worse, torturing his patients and experimenting on them."

Aster blinked, startled; it was the first she was hearing of such a doctor, but Jala continued speaking. "It is valuable knowledge. A gift, even. I hope you use it well."

The Eth was quiet then, looking down at her hands. Hands that had cleaned wounds and stitched them, fed herbs and tinctures to patients, pressed down on bleeding wounds; hands that had healed and hands that seen death. Hands that had helped people, or at least tried their best to do so.

Word Count: 550
Total: 2,239
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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 II)

Postby Asterope on November 30th, 2019, 7:51 pm

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Aster flexed her fingers and glanced away. "I try my best," she finally responded. She had never considered that the art of healing was something rare, that what she did was particularly noteworthy. It was just...what she did. What she knew how to do. Selfishly, perhaps, it was what she thought she was meant to do.

What sort of life would she be living if she had never learned anything about medicine, about herbalism? Helpless, useless, lost; a life without purpose. Would she have found a different calling? Perhaps, but the thought of it made her uncomfortable.

Aster had always been grateful for Nara; when she was taken in by Inyel and his clan, she had been the one to teach Aster, foster her, take her under her wing. But there was a newfound appreciation blooming in the Ethaefal's gut, not just for the woman who had taught her, but the craft itself.

Herbalism had always been a tool to help others. But Aster had never really appreciated that she knew it, could do it and use it, was capable of it. Without Nara and without the knowledge of medicine, she would never have been able to help the people she had; even when she failed, she wouldn't have even been able to try.

"I still have a lot to learn," Aster spoke after a moment. "Do you...I mean, do you think you would be able to teach me some? Would you be willing to? I can't always help as much as I want to." She thought of the boy she had found on the streets, stabbed, and how he had died in her arms, her hands covered in her blood from her desperate attempts to save him.

Her experience with death, as someone who dealt in medicine, was limited all things considered. And perhaps she should be grateful for that, too; and of course she was. To have someone die, and to know that you might have been able to save them had you tried harder or known more, was an awful thing; she was glad to not have dealt with that more often.

But she wasn't under the impression that it was because of her skills. Aster knew she had much to learn about medicine and herbalism. She had simply gotten lucky in the patients she herself had treated over her limited lifetime so far. She was looking at Jala now, face pleading and eyes shining bright and earnest.

Imogen had been quiet this whole time, but finally spoke up. "You should teach her, Miss Jala," she said, grinning. "At least to make up for me stealin' her stuff."

The intense air in the tent suddenly shifted, or perhaps that had only been her imagination. Regardless, both she and Jala laughed. "That is not for me to make up for, you little thief," Jala scolded, but there was no real anger in her voice. "You must do that yourself. But I will consider it," she spoke, addressing Aster now. "Come and see me again some other time, and we will discuss it more. But for now, if you will excuse me a moment, I need to check on my stew."

With that, Jala left the tent to go check on the pot outside, leaving Imogen and Asterope in the tent alone with each other.

Word Count: 556
Total: 2,795
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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
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Medals: 5
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A New Perspective (Part II)

Postby Asterope on November 30th, 2019, 8:12 pm

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"So, Imogen," Aster spoke, looking at the girl. "How do you know Jala?" The question was innocuous enough; to Aster, it seemed innocent, but the girl seemed to hesitate, her cheerful demeanour fading for just a moment before it returned.

"She knew my mama. Most whores in the city know Jala," she gave a shrug. "She helps them out." There it was, that jarring break in reality again, where Aster felt thrown by the words the little girl used and the way she spoke. It was a reminder that she wasn't just any little girl, she was a little girl from Sunberth, and she had experienced things well beyond her years.

Aster had never considered herself to be particularly motherly; she'd never had a strong maternal instinct. Sure, she loved kids; but she loved animals, too, and people in general. It was her job as someone who dealt in medicine to care for everyone. But something about Imogen made a deep protectiveness flare in her chest, and she just wanted to sweep the girl into her arms and keep her safe from the world.

She somehow doubted Imogen would appreciate that. It didn't make the feeling lessen any. In that moment, Aster made a silent vow to herself to keep as close an eye as possible on the girl, and to do what she could to help her moving forward.

Imogen was continuing to talk, seeming oblivious to Aster's thoughts. "After my mama died, I still came to visit her. She's nice, and she's fun to talk to. She teaches me stuff sometimes, and she makes good stew."

As if on cue, Jala ducked back into the tent. "Stew is ready," she announced, and Imogen let out a whoop as she leaped off her chair, scrambling over to one of the shelves to fetch roughly carved wooden bowls.

Jala served them out each portions despite Aster's protests; she wasn't hungry, but neither Imogen nor Jala seemed to believe that all she needed to sustain herself during the day was sunlight.

"You are no plant, girl. I don't care what magical place you come from or what goddess gave you life," Jala huffed, plunking a steaming bowl of stew down in front of Aster. So the Eth ate some; she had to admit, it was quite good, but she still felt bad taking food from them when Imogen was out stealing it to survive. So when the girl had finished her bowl and Aster had taken a few bites, the Eth slid her still mostly full bowl across to Imogen.

The little girl lit up like a candle, and after glancing at Aster to be certain, she dug into the second bowl. Jala watched with a small smile on her face, and Aster was suddenly struck with a pang in her chest as the feeling of happiness and belonging bloomed behind her ribs.

It was surprisingly painful. It was a feeling she had long forgotten; it felt almost like family, sitting around the wooden table in the tent, Jala chatting absently about the herbs she had been looking for recently while Imogen listened eagerly and wolfed down her stew.

That they were allowing her there, welcoming her, even, as Imogen turned to Aster every so often to see if she was listening as well...and the way Jala occasionally met her gaze with a fond but exasperated smile at Imogen's antics. It was something she hadn't experienced since living with Inyel and his family, and even then not everyone had welcomed her so wholly. Here, it was smaller, but warmer somehow. More open and inviting.

It was so strange, how one little thing could change everything. Chasing after a thieving child, agreeing to listen to a story, agreeing to accompany her...if she had done none of those things, where would she be right now? Back at the apartment in the barracks, miserable as always. She would have to return regardless, of course, and there was going to be Hai to pay for being gone so long and for losing the food she had bought, but...Aster found herself realizing she wouldn't trade this moment for anything.

Perhaps she grew attached too quickly. How strange, to be so full of love for a child she had just met; and how strange indeed to be thankful that the little girl had decided to snatch her bag.

(Continued in A New Perspective Part III*)

Word Count: 731
Total: 3,526
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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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