Completed Behind Closed Doors

The walls in the Sunset Quarters are much too thin.

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

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Behind Closed Doors

Postby Baelin Holt on November 28th, 2019, 5:19 am

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20, Fall 519 AV

Baelin couldn't sleep.

"Little... Can't..." Thud!

While Baelin certainly didn't miss the shut-in confinement of Syliran apartments, he could really use his old apartment’s stone walls right about now. Because these walls here in the Sunset Quarters? Definitely too thin.

"Do you... Mother..." Slap!

Baelin winced. That was the unmistakable sound of a hard, stinging hit to bare flesh. It hadn’t been the first, and it wasn’t the last. Violence continued just on the other side of the wall, blows spaced in irregular but unstopping intervals. Some strikes had the sharp crack of open-palmed slaps, but others had the distinct, dull thud of heavier, closed-fisted hits. It was a beating. Long and drawn out, too unmistakable for Baelin to convince himself that it was anything else.

Through it all, Baelin could only hear one person: the occasional shouted frustration of Baelin's neighbor. His rage pierced through the too-thin walls, some of his words loud enough to be heard even through the wood. The rest was muffled, too low for Baelin to hear. But just because he couldn’t hear the specifics of the beating, didn’t mean he was spared the reality of it. This wasn’t just someone punching his wall and throwing furniture. Flesh hit flesh, and the abuse continued.

Baelin buried his head in his arms, trying to muffle the ongoing strikes. It’d been, what… a half-chime already? That was a long time to take that kind of abuse. Far too long.

Unable to block it out and entirely incapable of ignoring it any longer, Baelin finally gave in and got up. In the span of a tick, he’d crossed the room and started banging his fist against the wall.

At first, his neighbor didn’t hear him. But Baelin kept it up, pounding the side of his fist against wood again and again. And then it stopped. The slaps and thuds; all the telltale signs of a pummeling.

“The petch you want!?” The shout from the other side of the wall was as clear as day; Baelin’s neighbor must have gotten right up to the opposite side.

“Quit it!” Baelin hollered back.

There was a long moment of silence, where Baelin could hear nothing of what was happening on the other side. Then there was a loud Bang! A door being slammed open so hard that it banged into the wall.

Well. At least the beating stopped. But a door slammed open didn’t exactly bode well for―Bang! Bang! Bang!

Yep. Now he was pounding on Baelin’s door.

“Open up and say that to my face!” The neighbor raged. With just a shuddering length of wood between them, the threat somehow felt that much more real.

Opening the door sounded like a hilariously bad idea. Instead of cracking open that can of worms, Baelin went back to sit on the edge of his bed, grabbing his hammer on the way. Settling down so that he was facing the disaster waiting to happen, Baelin waited. While he thought the door would hold, it’d be naïve to think the guy completely incapable of breaking it wide open.

And so Baelin waited. Tensed and ready, he stared with a predatory intent at the shaking door. Shyke, he almost wanted the guy to break it in. Shut him up for good, came the thought. Baelin immediately pulled back from it and tried for some more constructive thinking instead: At least the person in the household is getting some breathing room.

Chimes went by as his neighbor pounded and shouted, demanding Baelin to open up. But he never did try to kick it down or take any measures to break the doorframe. Either he wasn’t particularly bright, or just not very determined. Either way, the door held.

Eventually, he stopped. Baelin couldn’t be sure if he had left or had just tired himself out and was taking a break. Whatever the case, Baelin wasn’t planning on opening that door anytime soon. And so he sat there, unmoving. Just staring at the door. Waiting for it to shake again.

This was the kind of thing that would have never flied back in Black Rock. The Omens kept everyone in line. And―if you were enough of an idiot to actually cause trouble―rumor had it you’d become an ashl. Baelin smirked at the thought: an abusive asshole reduced to currency, passed around from person to person with a complete loss of agency. It almost made him wish his father had been that much of an idiot. Baelin wouldn’t have minded that.

Wait…

A thought stuck him. One that he hadn’t really bothered to consider before. But… was that why his father never did anything to him? Baelin had been certain as a child that his father had wanted to do more than just threaten him. He’d been young, and his memories were imperfect, but Baelin carried with him the all too vivid recollection of his father’s fingers twitching at his side as he proposed pulling out Baelin’s tongue. As if he could just…reach over and do it.

But not once had he ever done it. And he’d certainly never lost it and railed on Baelin like this neighbor had tonight. Shyke, he’d never so much as laid a finger on Baelin. And when he did eventually kick him out, it was to go live with his aunt and uncle. Not to a Dhani nest, like Baelin had feared he would.

Was that why his father had been almost civil with him? Because Black Rock held Dira’s protection, and his father didn’t dare risk the Omens’ judgement?

If that was the case… Baelin looked down to his hands, Dira’s mark bold and defined on his palm. A hint of a smile tugged on the corner of his lips, the grim lines of his face softening as he considered the mark.

It was all thanks to her, wasn’t it? It was Dira’s protection that spared him from whatever his father might have otherwise done. He’d never had to deal with violent abuse―not like whoever lived with Baelin’s neighbor. And his fear that he’d be displaced to somewhere hostile had been groundless. While the terrain in Black Rock could be dangerous, its people weren’t. A safe haven, for both living and dead.

He was so very lucky. Baelin rubbed his thumb over the curve of Dira’s scythe, his touch gentle and reverent, despite the rough terrain of callouses and picked-at scars. So many people were born in places where no one cared. You could be forgotten in the cloying mass of people that was Syliras. Or suddenly disappear in the mess that was Ravok. Or be beaten by a member of your household, with no one around who could turn your abuser into an ashl. Just one way of many that Sunberth failed in terms of safety and security.

But Black Rock… Baelin curled his fingers over his palm, wishing he could do better to protect the curve and slash of Dira’s mark. Black Rock was truly blessed. And it had been Baelin’s utmost privilege to have grown up there.

Dira, he thought, his heart somehow feeling like it was too tight in his chest, You have been too good to me.

Her Omens, maintaining peace in her isle. Her presence, granted to him so long ago off a beach near Syliras. And her mark… Baelin curled in on himself, cradling his right arm. He had to do better. She’d been so good to him. And he was…such a lousy Eiyon. Baelin sucked in a deep breath and counted to ten. It was alright. He could do better. He was here in Sunberth, wasn’t he? He could do better.

WC: 1279
Last edited by Baelin Holt on November 29th, 2019, 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Baelin Holt
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Behind Closed Doors

Postby Baelin Holt on November 29th, 2019, 8:20 pm

Letting his breath out in a sharp hiss, Baelin flopped onto his back. He ought to sleep. Thinking too much wouldn’t do anyone any good. What he needed was sleep. And now that his neighbor was done with his bout of violence, Baelin could finally get some shut-eye.

And so he did just that. Shutting his eyes. And trying to sleep.

Rip out that snake tongue.

Any chime now.

I want to offer you a gift.

Petch, he wasn’t even drowsy anymore.

On the condtion that you…

Nope. He wasn’t sleeping anytime soon. Baelin sat up and swung his feet over the side of his bed, rubbing his face as he hissed a long, low sigh. He needed to clear his head. A glance to his door confirmed it still seemed unperturbed; his neighbor was likely long gone.

He wasn’t stupid enough to go on a walk at night, but just… He could just stand outside, under Leth. That might help clear his head. At the very least, it was better than lying in bed wide awake.

Decision made, Baelin pulled his clothes and boots on and went to open the door. He turned the handle, pushed, and only got the door open about a fraction of the way before it jammed on something. Baelin blinked. Poked his head out the gap. And was probably just as surprised to see a kid gaping up at him as the kid seemed to be about Baelin poking his head out the door.

The kid stood over a passed out, drunk man. With his arms hooked under the adult’s armpits, Baelin had evidently interrupted him in the process of tugging the man away from Baelin’s door.

Ah. So this would be the neighbor.

“Heeeey,” the kid’s voice cracked halfway through the word, giving away his age, “Just give me a tick and I’ll get him out of your hair.”

Baelin stared at the blossoming bruise on the kid’s arm, processing what he was seeing perhaps a bit too slowly. But, despite his surprise, the pieces still came together. The man passed out in front of his door must be his raging neighbor. The drunk must have sat down and then―in the way the very intoxicated often do―dozed off. And then came the kid to fetch him. The kid who mostly likely had been the member of the neighbor’s household that got beaten.

And now that kid was busy dragging his abuser back to their apartment? Baelin shook his head. He didn’t get it. Why not run? The man was asleep―now was the perfect time.

The kid resumed his tugging and succeeded in twisting the man sideways. With the man’s torso at an angle from his legs, it definitely was progress. But Baelin got the distinct impression that the kid was going to struggle for at least several more chimes to make the short distance back to their apartment.

Baelin squinted at the kid, wanting to ask something along the lines of: Are you sure you want to take this guy back home? Or just get the petch outta here. But he couldn’t think of a way to frame that without digging for personal details that he didn’t really want to hear.

Something about his expression must have given him away. Because the kid stopped tugging for a moment to shoot him a dirty look. “He’s my dad,” he said it with such fierceness that Baelin couldn’t help but feel bewildered.

The kid heaved and pulled his dad a bit farther away. Before Baelin could think better of it, he squeezed through his semi-open door and stepped into the space next to the kid. Baelin could see him bracing himself, but all Baelin did was bend down to grab under the dad’s knees.

Eyes narrowed and body stiff as a board, the kid absolutely looked like he thought Baelin might explode at a moment’s notice. Baelin gave a short nod―a silent gesture for the kid to go ahead and start tugging.

Still looking as if he was expecting some kind of trick, the kid hesitantly started to pull again. Baelin crouched down, made sure his grip under the drunk’s knees was good, and then surged up. The drunk’s body tipped back, Baelin lifting the lighter legs up to his waist while the kid more dragged than lifted the heavier torso. They got about two paces―the kid tugging and Baelin shuffling slowly behind―before he figured that this had to be the least efficient way to do this.

Baelin dropped the drunk’s legs. The kid ignored his apparent bailing and continued to pull, until Baelin asked, “Trade?”

While getting stared at as if he’d grown a second head wasn’t the most unusual thing for Baelin, it was somehow much more annoying to see it coming from a kid. Pursing his lips to keep from saying anything he’d regret, Baelin stepped around to the man’s shoulders. The kid finally let go―still watching Baelin as if he expected some kind of trick―and moved around to take his dad’s knees.

WC: 841
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Behind Closed Doors

Postby Baelin Holt on November 29th, 2019, 8:28 pm

Okay. Just get the drunk abuser up, drag him back to their apartment, and then be done with the matter. Baelin crouched down, grabbed under the guy’s armpits, and then heaved up.

He was heavy. And the fact that he was entirely dead weight right now wasn’t helpful. Baelin took a tick to readjust, trying to get the guy’s weight a little better situated. He wound up with the drunk’s head crooked up against his belly, and Baelin stuck in a semi-crouch. It was good enough; he started backwards. Baelin’s thighs burned with the strain, and the kid only barely kept up with Baelin’s quick backpedal. Fabric scraped on the ground as the pair worked back to the neighbor’s apartment, and Baelin kept going straight back through the open door. Once inside, he dropped the guy unceremoniously on the floor.

The drunk snorted in his alcohol-induced slumber, but otherwise seemed unconcerned by all the manhandling. Bealin grimaced as he finally straightened. Dead to the world, the drunk only drooled in response.

At least―despite his family’s flaws―none of them had any vices like this. His father brewed and drank, but Baelin couldn’t ever recall him actually becoming drunk. And if his mother had ever had a penchant for too much, his too-young self had been unaware of it. But this? Baelin found himself staring once again at the large, visible swath of brusing along the kid’s arm.

“Why…” Baelin trailed off, speaking before he could think better of it. Why would the kid stay in a place like this? Why not leave?

The kid misinterpreted his question. “Listen,” he said, “I’m sorry he was bugging you, alright? He just had a bit too much to drink is all.” His voice cracked again, and Baelin winced. Way too young to be dealing with this shyke.

Baelin shook his head, but didn’t push it. After all… If he hadn’t grown up in the safe haven of Dira’s isle, and his father had been abusive as well, would he have left? No. Not likely. Baelin likely would have hid any injuries, too scared of being abandoned to a Dhani nest to ever dare risking exposure of any abuse. He had no right to lecture this kid. But…that said…

This wasn’t right. Baelin didn’t think there was anything he could do about it, but it still wasn’t right. Baelin curled his fingers in and rubbed Dira’s mark. Sunberth was such a harsh place to grow up in. And as Baelin watch this banged up kid roll his dad into a position that would be a bit better on him come morning, something tight and uncomfortable coiled in the pit of his stomach. He’d been lucky. His whole childhood, he’d lived a sheltered, safe existence. And he’d never once recognized that. Not as a kid. Not while he was actually living there. Baelin wished he could go back. Be a better kid, go to school, get in less childhood squabbles; he really hadn’t had any idea how good he’d had it.

The kid finally looked up, realizing Baelin was still hovering nearby. His expression hardened, something Baelin couldn’t hope to read crossing his expression. “What do you want?”

Baelin’s eye twitched. No, that wouldn’t do. He didn’t need this kid thinking he wanted anything for his help. So―with his hands held up as if to placate something wild―Baelin backed up and stepped out of the neighbor’s apartment. The kid watched his every move, his eyes still locked on him even as Baelin grabbed the door and shut it between them.

The drunk, abusive dad now back in his home, the kid inside, and the door shut, Baelin realized he finally was able to do what he initially intended. Stand outside, breath in some fresh air, and enjoy Leth’s soft light. And so Baelin pulled in a deep breath, walked back to his own door, and sat down with his back to it. He pulled in another deep breath, looked up, and thought of home.

WC: 669
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Baelin Holt
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Behind Closed Doors

Postby Ambrosia Alar on December 31st, 2019, 2:14 pm

Grades!


Baelin

Skills
● Body Building +2
● Intelligence +1
● Logic +1
● Meditation +1
● Observation +2
● Planning +1
● Tactics +1

Lores
● Sunset Quarters: Thin walls
● Baelin's Neighbor: Abusive
● Baelin: Has had enough of others being abused
● Tactics: Let your adversary come to you
● Omens: Protectors of Black Rock
● Baelin's Father, Bedrick: Civil out of necessity
● Black Rock: A safe haven
● Baelin: Feels privileged to have grown up in Black Rock
● Eiyon: Dira's gift came with a condition
● Sunberth: Not a place for a walk at night
● Noah: Still cares for his dad through the abuse
● Body Building: Lift with your legs
● Deadweight is harder to lift
● Noah: Too young to be dealing with this shyke


Comments

Baelin, I'll admit I haven't read a lot of your stuff, but this was a fantastic introduction to you. You write your character and his understanding of the world beautifully, and I'm excited to see where things go and to be able to write with you in the hopefully near future. Be sure to mark your request as graded. If you feel I've missed something or if you would like lore rephrased, just send me a PM. As always, thanks for the read.
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Ambrosia Alar
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