Solo A New Perspective (Part IV)

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 IV)

Postby Asterope on December 1st, 2019, 1:51 am

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42nd of Autumn, 519 AV

(Continued from A New Perspective Part III*)

Imogen's cheeks turned pink as she shook her head at Aster, folding her arms over her chest, her mouth wavering as she struggled to decide if she wanted to smile or frown. "You don't have to lie, you know. I know it's not good."

Aster shook her head vehemently, dropping into a crouch so that she was more on-level with the girl, resting her hands on her thighs as she looked at Imogen. "I'm not lying. It might not be very good in terms of materials or skills, because you're learning and using what you can. But I can guarantee you that this is the most beautiful garden I have ever, or will ever, see."

"How is that possible?" Imogen scoffed, kicking her toe in the dirt. Aster was silent for a moment as she struggled to gather up her emotions and form them into proper thoughts, and those thoughts into coherent words that Imogen would understand.

"It's not always about how good the final product looks," Aster said, slowly, as she strung together the words in her head. "Or how good the tools you have are, or how skilled you are. Sometimes what matters most is effort."

Imogen frowned at Aster, and then rolled her eyes. "That's dumb," she said, turning away from Aster. She walked over to the rickety wooden bench to pick up her watering can.

"It's not dumb," Aster defended, standing from her crouch.

"It is," Imogen insisted, her voice harsh. "Tools and skills are what keep you alive. It doesn't matter how much effort you put into a knife fight, if you have a shitty dagger that you can't use, you're going to end up dead. And then what good is effort?"

Aster faltered. For all the light and positivity she still retained, Imogen was still a Sunberth street child. Aster could see the pained expression on her face as the girl warred between survival instinct and emotion.

"Well, I did say sometimes," Aster said gently, walking over to pick up the shears. "There are exceptions to everything. But Imogen, that's exactly why this garden is so amazing."

"I don't get it," she frowned, finally walking past Aster to a patch of somewhat scraggly flowers, beginning to sprinkle whatever water was left in the can over them, pausing every so often to sift through the dirt with her fingers and spread the dampened soil.

Aster followed, and knelt by the edge of the patch. Placing the shears to the side, she began to sift through the grass for any weeds. She didn't know much about gardening, actually growing plants or herbs, but it only made sense that weeds would be unwelcome, and it was an easy enough task.

Well, she thought so, at least, but she was having trouble determining if some of the green poking up from the ground were actually weeds, or maybe just growing flowers, or if they were perhaps supposed to be there.

But she continued to talk as she sorted through the grass with her fingers, yanking out an unruly leafy looking growth. "Sunberth isn't exactly a very nice place, is it?" She asked, and Imogen frowned down at the flowers she was watering, shaking her head.

"No, I guess not," she agreed, emptying the last of the water from the can and returning to set it back down on the bench. She came back over and knelt beside Aster, helping her weed.

Imogen giggled slightly as Aster yanked a green stem, reaching over to pluck it from her hand. "That wasn't a weed, it was a flower. Look," Imogen said, pointing at a tiny green bulb at the top that Aster had missed.

"Oh. Sorry," Aster smiled faintly, the expression sheepish. Imogen waved her hand and set the stem aside.

"That's okay. It can be hard to tell sometimes," she assured the Eth. "It's good to pull out the whole weed either way, though. Make sure to get the roots. Otherwise it'll just grow back, I think. You might have to dig a little to do it."

Aster nodded, smilingly slightly to herself as Imogen explained without second thought. The next time she came across a weed, she did as the girl had explained, scraping her fingers down into the dirt slightly to loosen the roots before yanking the weed, roots and all, and setting it aside.

Word Count: 728
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A New Perspective (Part IV)

Postby Asterope on March 3rd, 2020, 3:02 am

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"So," Aster continued. "Sunberth isn't a very nice place. It's hard to survive. You have to worry about skill and tools, like you said. Then why did you make this garden? You're not growing food," Aster pointed out, gently.

Imogen frowned, yanking a weed slightly harder than was necessary. "I know. But...I like it. It makes me happy, and it's pretty. It's somewhere I can come to get away from things."

Aster nodded. She understood the need for a place like that. "And that's exactly it. You don't need this garden, you hardly have the resources for it, but you did it anyway. Because you like it, because it makes you happy. Even in a place like this, where you have to worry about dying all the time. That's why it's so beautiful, Imogen. It's like a little piece of hope in the dirt."

She was doing a terrible job of explaining this, she realized. But Imogen looked thoughtful at her last words, staring down at the soil and her dirt stained hands. "You really think so?" She finally asked, looking back up at Aster.

"Of course. I believe that with all my heart," she promised, yanking another weed. She realized, absentmindedly and belatedly, that she hadn't really needed the shears. She had been expecting some larger, tougher weeds. Oh well.

Imogen looked lost in thought. Aster sat back, brushing the dirt off her hands, and peered up at the crumbling ceiling. The sun was steadily moving towards the horizon. She needed to get back to Alard before it got to be too late.

"I'm going to have to go soon," Aster sighed, standing up and brushing off her knees as well.

Imogen frowned, looking for a moment as if she wanted to protest, then sighed. "Yeah, I guess so, huh? Geez, it's already been most of the day. You won't get in too much trouble 'cause of me, will you?" Anxiety tinged her voice, and Aster automatically shook her head.

"It's not your fault. I'll be okay, don't worry." Bending to pick up the shears and the small pile of weeds that she'd pulled, Aster deposited both on the bench, Imogen following.

"Why do you say that it's hope?" She asked, suddenly, looking at Aster. "That I made this garden even though Sunberth sucks. Why is that hopeful?"

Aster rubbed her cheek, then thought better of it, pulling her hand away; judging by Imogen's stifled giggle, it was too late, and she'd already smudged dirt onto her face.

"Because it means that there's some positivity in this place. There are still good, beautiful things, even in a place that, well, sucks," Aster echoed back Imogen's own choice of words. "And if you're bothering with it, it means that there's still hope in you. Don't ever change, Imogen."

Aster wanted to say more; you're bright and beautiful and lively, don't let this city stomp on you and bury you and kill you, rotting you from the inside out. Don't let it turn you to dust.

Word Count: 505
Total: 1,233
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A New Perspective (Part IV)

Postby Asterope on March 3rd, 2020, 3:04 am

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But she bit her tongue as Imogen rolled her eyes, a grin spreading over the girl's face. "You don't have to be so dramatic about it, geez." And just like that, the serious expression on her young face was gone. That was okay; Aster preferred it that way. She was sure that Imogen had to look serious far too often.

"Maybe you're right," Aster agreed, but she didn't have a choice but to be serious most of the time either. Imogen motioned for Aster to bend down, so the Eth did so, raising an eyebrow. The girl reached up, tugging her sleeve over her palm and holding it in place, then using it to wipe roughly at Aster's cheek.

She couldn't help the laugh that broke out of her in surprise, like the sudden gentle chiming of wind chimes on an otherwise still and quiet day. Imogen looked surprised for a second, then delighted, and Aster realized how little she laughed these days. She hadn't been much of a laugher to begin with, but now? The sound was practically nonexistent. It felt foreign leaving her throat, but nice. It left her chest feeling airy.

"Hang on, wait here. I have one more thing to show you before you go," Imogen said suddenly, and turned to scamper over to a corner overgrown with shrubbery. Aster straightened up, gently rubbing her fingers over the spot of dirt that Imogen had scrubbed off her face, and watched curiously.

The girl got down on her hands and knees, pushing apart the shrubbery to rummage around in it; Aster could hear the faint sounds of dirt being pushed aside. Finally, Imogen wriggled back out from the greenery and popped up looking triumphant; she held a small battered box in her hands. Her already dirty pink and blonde hair was full of leaves and twigs, sticking up in all directions.

"Oh dear. My turn," Aster said, bemusedly, as she took a seat and gestured Imogen over.

"Your turn for what?" She asked, trotting over happily, clutching the dirty box to her chest.

"To clean you up," Aster said, and when Imogen stopped in front of her, reached up to begin picking various bits of bush debris from the girl's tangled hair.

"It's fine," Imogen waved one hand, batting at Aster's arm, but the Eth simply frowned at her and continued until she had brushed away the worst of the mess.

"You looked like you had a literal bird's nest on your head. Now, show me what it is you're so excited about," Aster motioned to the box.

Imogen looked hesitant for a moment, then thrust it out towards Aster, bumping the box into her chest. The Eth reached up to take it gingerly. "It's my secret treasure trove," Imogen said, whispering, as if she might be overheard.

Curiosity piqued successfully, Aster gently opened the lid of the box, dirt falling off onto her lap, and set it aside. And indeed, inside the box was a treasure trove of oddities and knickknacks. Aster cautiously dipped her fingers into the box to sort through the pile of assorted items, sifting through them gently. Glass and stones clinked quietly as Aster appraised the various bits and baubles that Imogen had hidden away inside of the box.

There was an assortment of stones, pretty and shiny, and the occasional little bit of crystal. There were seashells and sea glass, dried petals and a few seeds, bits of regular glass and broken pieces of jewelry, feathers and even the occasional small fragment of what seemed to be bone.

"You have some beautiful things in here," Aster said, looking up from the box, and Imogen nodded.

"I like collecting pretty things," she confessed. "Even if they're dirty or broken or useless, or other people don't think anything of them. Some of the adults call me Magpie because of it." She frowned slightly, telling Aster all she needed to know about how Imogen felt about that particular nickname.

"Thank you for showing me," Aster said, offering Imogen back the box. "It's a wonderful treasure to have." And it was, because just like the crumbling garden, it was a secret little trove of beauty and wonder in the middle of everything that was Sunberth...despair, filth, and ugliness.

Word Count: 713
Total: 1,946
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A New Perspective (Part IV)

Postby Asterope on March 3rd, 2020, 3:05 am

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"Well, I didn't want to just show you," Imogen said, setting the box down on the bench beside Aster. She squinted at the Eth for a long moment before leaning down to rummage around in the box. Aster watched curiously as Imogen picked up the occasional trinket, glanced back at her, then frowned and replaced it in the box.

"What are you doing, Imogen?" She finally asked after a moment, but Imogen just shushed her.

"Give me a second, I'm thinking. I promise I won't be much longer," the girl said, still rummaging through the box. So Aster shushed and sat, waiting patiently but her curiosity heightening with every passing second. A few of the trinkets that Imogen pulled from the box, she looked over and then nodded, seemingly satisfied with them as she set them aside before continuing her search.

It took another chime or two, but finally she seemed satisfied. Carefully scooping the small pile she'd amassed into her palms, Imogen straightened up and held her cupped hands out to Aster. "Here," she said.

"What's this?" Aster asked, peering into her palms. A few pieces of sea glass sat in the girl's hands, in various shapes and sizes, all varying shades of pink and orange or yellow.

"I want you to have these. They're pretty like you, and you've been really nice to me today, so I wanted to give you something. And if we never see each other again," Imogen frowned even as she said it, and Aster felt a surprisingly sharp pang in her chest at the suggestion. "Even if we never see each other again, you'll have something to remember me by. So take 'em."

Aster hardly wanted to take anything from the girl's carefully hoarded treasure, but Imogen's lips were pushed out in a defiant pout; it clearly meant a lot to the girl, and the sentiment was deeply touching, wrapping a tender warmth around Aster's heart and weaving it between her ribs.

"Alright," she finally said, holding out her own palms, and Imogen carefully dumped the sea glass pieces into Aster's hands; there were hardly more than half a dozen, and Aster knew there were plenty more in the box from the peek she'd taken. It was still touching, and especially given that Imogen had clearly gone out of her way to pick colours she thought Aster would like.

"I'll treasure them always," Aster said, sincerely, as she carefully pocketed the pieces of smooth glass. "Thank you, Imogen."

The girl looked embarrassed, and waved her hand as she turned to place the lid back on her box. "It's nothing. There's plenty of sea glass all over near the ocean if you know to look for it," she said, but she seemed pleased. Aster rubbed her thumb over one of the pieces before removing her hand from her pocket, brushing the dirt off of her lap and standing up.

"Well, I appreciate it anyway. They're very pretty. I'll make sure to put them in a safe place where I won't lose them." Where Alard wouldn't find them, is what she meant. Already she felt deeply protective of the little pieces of sea glass. Were they worthless? Probably. But to Aster they were already one of her most prized possessions.

Word Count: 545
Total: 2,491
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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
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A New Perspective (Part IV)

Postby Asterope on March 3rd, 2020, 3:07 am

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Aster waited while Imogen ducked back into the bush to return her treasure box to its hiding place before the two left the crumbling old building together, Imogen insisting on walking Aster as far as she could. She chatted about good places to find various trinkets as they walked, and Aster listened, nodding along as she picked new bits of leaves and twigs out of Imogen's hair, doing her best to comb it out with her fingers.

Imogen swatted at her hand occasionally, or whined when a knot caught on Aster's fingers and tugged at her scalp, but otherwise allowed Aster to fuss over her and clean out the worst of the mess that was tangled in her slightly greasy and matted strands.

But sooner than either of them would have lived, it was time to part ways. Aster lingered, looking down at Imogen, and felt her chest squeeze. "Thank you for today, Imogen," she said, and the girl blinked owlishly.

"I didn't really do anything. I should be thanking you," she said, and scuffed her foot on the ground, swinging her arms back and forth. Finally, she said, "Will I see you again?"

"Yes," Aster said, without thinking. "It might be awhile, but I'll see you again. I promise. I'll find you somehow, or you'll find me. But we'll see each other again."

She'd been doing her best to refrain from touching Imogen too much, but finally, Aster caved. She dropped into a crouch, and wrapped her arms around the girl in a tight hug. Imogen startled, stiffening for a moment before she tentatively hugged Aster back.

"I better," she said, as she pulled away. "Or I'll be real mad at you. I'll revoke your treasure!" She threatened, and she was smiling, but she looked sad. Aster wanted nothing more in that moment to stay with the girl, to take her somewhere far away from Sunberth.

"I promise," Aster said with a soft smile, standing again. She ruffled her fingers through Imogen's hair one last time before taking a few steps back, waving. "I'll see you around, Imogen. Be good and be safe."

Imogen laughed at that, waved back, and then turned and ran off. Aster watched her go until her small figure disappeared around a corner. With a long sigh, she squared her shoulders before turning to finish the rest of the walk back to the barracks, already dreading what she would face.

As she walked, Aster slipped her hand into her pocket, rubbing her thumb over the smooth bits of coloured glass; and somehow, she felt a little bit better, knowing that whatever lay ahead, she would face it and take it and that every second of it had been well worth it.

Word Count: 456
Total: 2,947
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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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