Solo Between Dusty Pages

Searching for clues...

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

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Between Dusty Pages

Postby Asterope on February 27th, 2020, 3:16 am

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17th of winter, 519 AV

Aster knew she was playing with fire, but she couldn't help it; Jala had given her a potential sliver of information to go off of, but it was more than she'd had before, and she had latched onto it. So when Alard took her to the Pig's Foot while he met with a few friends, she sat quietly, but she was watching and waiting for her chance.

She knew the library was nearby; she'd been to it once before, ages ago, stumbling into it by accident. But she knew it was down the nearby alleyway. If Alard would only get distracted enough...just maybe she could slip away for a bit. Would she be able to justify it if she returned and he noticed she was gone? Probably not.

Her cheek, ass, and back still ached from the beating she'd gotten a few days ago from being out so late, purple bruises fading quickly into sickly yellow as she coaxed them to age each day, but they still hurt. Was it worth it? She had to believe it was.

Asterope sat quietly as Alard laughed raucously at something one of the other men said. They were chatting away; they hadn't been there for long, but all of them had already knocked back a fair few drinks, and they were getting drunk.

Suddenly, one of the men grunted as he looked across the room. "Is that petchin' One-Eyed Tommy?" He asked, and Alard and the other men swiveled their heads to follow the man's gaze across the tavern. A man sat alone in the corner, wearing a ragged coat and an eyepatch.

"Petcher," Alard swore. "I told him if I ever saw 'is sorry..." He paused to hiccup, clearing his throat. "If I ever saw 'is sorry ass again I'd kick it clear into the Suvan Sea!"

The other men laughed as if it was the funniest thing they'd ever heard. Aster wrinkled her nose slightly. Alard knocked back the rest of his drink and then stumbled to his feet. "Come on, then, let's let 'im know he still ain't welcome," Alard slurred.

Aster had no idea who this One-Eyed Tommy was, or what he'd done to piss Alard and his friends off; it wasn't even a gang thing, since these friends of Alard had no affiliation as far as she knew. If they did, they kept it quiet. But Alard usually preferred to frequent the Gold Lodge if he was meeting up with other Sun's Birth members, and she doubted he was friends with those from a rival gang.

Regardless, she had no idea what this man had done to earn their wrath. Whatever it was, it seemed personal. Whatever it was, she didn't care, but she was thankful for it. This was going to be her chance. If they started a bar wide brawl, perhaps she could justify her absence as having waited outside to avoid any of the conflict?

That might just work. Aster shifted to the edge of her seat, tensed and ready to make a run for it as soon as the fight startled, for inevitably there would be one. The man wearing the eyepatch grunted when Alard approached, looking up when one of his friends kicked the table he was sitting at. Aster couldn't hear what was being said from where she sat, but it certainly didn't look like it was friendly chatter.

Alard was leaning over the man, gripping the back of his chair. He said something that made Alard throw back his head and laugh; Alard reached for the one-eyed man's half empty mug of ale, draining it in a few quick gulps. Aster saw the man's hand move to his side; reaching for a weapon? Gods, maybe if she was really lucky, Alard would just get gutted in whatever fight he was about to incite.

Word Count: 642
Last edited by Asterope on February 29th, 2020, 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Between Dusty Pages

Postby Asterope on February 29th, 2020, 3:31 am

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She could only hope. Before the man could grab whatever weapon he was reaching for, Alard finished draining the glass mug and then swung it down over the man's head. He seemed to jerk back just in time to avoid most of the blow, but it was still hard enough for the glass to shatter, which even Aster heard from across the tavern and over the commotion of talking and laughing.

Some of the talking died down as the new commotion caught most people's attention. The one-eyed man jumped up, swearing and shouting at Alard, blood dripping down his face from his head, and swung at Alard. Immediately people began cheering or booing, and the ones sitting closest jumped up, clearly ready for a fight.

Perfect! That was her cue to get out of there. Aster slipped out of her seat and bolted for the door, letting it swing shut behind her as she burst out of the tavern and into the street, taking in a deep breath. It was still early evening, the sun bells yet from setting. She had time. Glancing behind her, she bit her lower lip. Well, perhaps not that long. She'd have to be quick.

Turning on her heel, Aster sprinted for the nearby alleyway she remembered as housing the library. She walked quickly down the narrow path, her footsteps echoing around her...there! The dilapidated building that she remembered ducking into to avoid some thugs who had been trying to tail her. Aster pushed open the door and stepped inside, letting it shut quietly behind her. She peered around; she was in the library, alright.

"Anything I can help you with?" The voice made Aster startle, spinning around and coming face to face with a woman who was peering at her curiously.

"Name's Remmy. Owner of this lovely establishment. What can I help you with?" The woman repeated, smiling but looking mildly annoyed at the same time.

"O-oh. Uhm, my name is Aster. Sorry, I was just...I was wondering, do you have any books on Benshira?" It was a long shot, she knew; the books that filled the shelves were mostly old diaries or journals with tidbits of knowledge tucked away inside them. Would anything even be organized by the knowledge of such a specific race?

Remmy squinted at her. Aster let out a sigh. "Anything on different races, maybe? People from the desert?" Remmy hummed thoughtfully, pursing her lips and tapping her chin.

"Honestly, I can't say anything like that comes to mind immediately, but even I'm not good enough to have every book in here memorized. Here," she motioned for Aster to follow her, and lead her deeper into the library towards the back. "These are mostly miscellaneous journals on people's personal lives. It's the best place I could suggest you start." Remmy motioned to the shelves full of dusty, tattered books.

Aster sighed, her shoulders slumping slightly. Even if there was anything useful buried in there, she'd likely never find it, especially not in a rush. But it was worth a shot, she supposed. "I'll take a look, then. Thank you." She gave a slight smile to Remmy, and the woman nodded.

"Let me know if you want to copy anything, that'll cost ya," she informed Aster, before turning and trotting off back towards the front.

"Well," Aster mumbled to herself, "Here goes nothing, I suppose." Aster scanned the spines of the book, but most of them seemed unmarked, so with a deep breath, she started at the end closest to her, and plucked the first book off the shelf, flipping it open to begin scanning the words scrawled on the inside.

Word Count: 610
Total: 1,252
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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
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Journal
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Medals: 5
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Between Dusty Pages

Postby Asterope on February 29th, 2020, 6:01 pm

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The words in the first book were written so sloppily that Aster couldn't decipher a single one, no matter how hard she squinted or at what angle she held the book. A promising start. Shutting the book, she coughed as it let out a puff of dust, waving her hand in front of her face to disperse it as she replaced the book on the shelf.

She moved on to the next one, grabbing the second book off the shelf and flipping it open. This one, at the very least, was legible. Aster flipped through it, scanning for keywords that might catch her attention, but the author of this particular journal was mostly talking about daily chores and chasing down a goat. Maybe a farmer's journal. Aster flipped the book shut and replaced it on the shelf.

Glancing around, she spotted a nearby table, and pulled off the next few books until she had her arms full of them; peering over the top of the stack to see where she was going, Aster walked over to the table and dumped the books onto it. Taking a seat, Aster grabbed one of the books on top of the pile and resumed her work.

It was long and tedious work indeed; and dusty, too. Every time Asterope opened a book or closed one, and even sometimes when she flipped through the pages, puffs and clouds of dust would rise up into her face, making her cough. She could feel the grime from the books coating her fingers, too; clearly, the library didn't get many visitors, especially to this particular section.

Still, she pressed on, flipping through page after page. Some books were like the first, with handwriting so messy she simply couldn't read it no matter how hard she tried. The occasional book was in a language she didn't recognize. Those were the easy ones; she opened them, looked at a single page, and then shut them before setting them aside in her 'not helpful' pile.

The others took a bit more work to flip through, and even still she was hardly being thorough; it made her worry that she was missing the piece of information that she needed, buried in a page somewhere in the middle that she simply wasn't looking at. But she didn't have the time to pore over each and every book in depth.

A personal journal that detailed the loss of the author's mother to a wolf attack. Journals on daily life in Sunberth, on life on a farm, on living as a prostitute...it became a blur of darkly inked words on parchment and paper as she continued to flip through.

Finally, as she was flipping through the books, one caught Aster's eye; it was more of a diary, similar to some others she'd seen, with dated entries almost daily. What caught her attention was the word 'travel'. All of the books she'd read so far had been about people living in Sunberth, and of course that made sense since that's where she was, but the word travel meant potential information about somewhere else.

Aster realized rather belatedly that she knew nothing about the supposed desert region that Benshira inhabited or came from; not what it was called, or any of the cities, or where it was located. Still, if she was lucky enough that this person had traveled there, hopefully they would give enough of a description to clue her in.

She took a bit more time with this book, scanning it more carefully. It seemed the author hadn't started in Sunberth, so Aster could only assume that instead the city had been their final destination, if their journal had ended up in the library.

Aster flipped through the entries, eyes running back and forth over the words. Wolves howling in the night...hunting for food...there, a city name! Riverfall. Aster frowned; there were no deserts anywhere near Riverfall that she knew of or could recall, and certainly none that the Drykas had ever spoken of. Still, she kept reading.

Out of curiosity, Aster paused to check the inside cover of the book for a name. Sure enough, there was one; 'Verta Ismelde'. Aster couldn't be sure if it was a male or female name, and certainly had no idea if it was a name that belonged to a particular race, but if she was going to be reading this person's journal more in-depth, it was nice to have a name for them.

Aster flipped through a few more pages; Verta described gathering a guide and companions for their travels, and following the Drykas through the Sea of Grass. For awhile it was page after page of survival and basic every day tasks, and Aster began to lose hope. There was a significant time jump between two of the entries, where Verta described an attack by a vicious pack of animals called glassbeaks and how they had been injured, but clearly had survived.

But it wasn't what Aster was looking for. She skipped ahead a few pages, then a few more, and was about to give up and go back to her search when a particular word caught her eye, making her freeze. '30th of Winter', the date read at the top of the page. There was no year marked that Aster had seen yet, and she had to wonder how old the journal was.

But that wasn't important, because underneath the entry marked the 30th of winter, Aster had glimpsed the word 'desert'. Bending forward, she scanned the page, fingertip trailing over the words.

'We've finally arrived at the edge of the desert. Over the border there is apparently a city nearby. A group of Drykas are planning to make the trip tomorrow for trading purposes. I believe I will accompany them to see for myself; I have never before been to the desert, and I cannot let such an opportunity pass me up.'

This was what she'd been looking for! It had to be; heart hammering in her chest, Aster quickly flipped the page to read the next entry, marked for the day after.

Word Count: 1,019
Total: 2,271
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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
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Journal
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Medals: 5
Featured Thread (1) Mizahar Grader (1)
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Between Dusty Pages

Postby Asterope on February 29th, 2020, 6:04 pm

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'The city is called Ahnatep. The people here are very strange indeed; many of them have two or three pairs of arms! Despite their strangeness, they are beautiful; the Drykas tell me they are called Eypharians. They are a prideful lot, but welcoming enough of the Drykas. The city is truly beautiful. The weather here is hot, even though it is winter, and I am told that deeper into the desert it only gets worse.'

There was no mention of the Benshira; Aster could care less about these multi-armed Eypharians. Though it did pique her curiosity briefly, and particularly she wondered about how strange their anatomy must be, it wasn't what she was looking for, and she was running out of time; already she'd lost track of how long she'd been sitting there going through book after book.

"Come on," she mumbled, flipping to the next page. It talked more about the Eypharians and their trading with the Drykas, and how hot and sandy the desert was, when finally the next passage gave Aster what she wanted.

'On our way back to Endrykas today we ran into a group of nomadic desert people. They remind me of the Drykas themselves somewhat, just adapted more for heat and sand than for grass. They call themselves Benshira.'

Aster could have yelled in excitement. Heart in her mouth, she kept reading, eyes wide and taking her time to absorb every relevant word on the page.

'This particular tribe seem to breed horses as well; they are exotic and truly beautiful, clearly built for the desert. The Drykas spent quite a few long bells discussing with them the intricacies of horses; breeding and raising and riding. A common point of interest despite a heavy language barrier; it seems that the Benshira are rarer to trade with than the Eypharians. But still, some agreed to accompany us back to Endrykas to see the Drykas' own horses and perhaps do some trade.'

Did all Benshira breed horses like the Drykas? The passage mentioned something about tribes...perhaps it was similar to the Drykas, where different clans specialized in different professions? But horses were a constant across the Drykas. Aster kept reading.

'The Benshira have been telling us about the other animals they use for livestock and sometimes riding; they are describing something like a large goat, but with no horns and large bumps on its back. It is baffling; I have never heard of nor seen a beast like they describe. They say there other tribes that specialize in raising that animal. I am intrigued and baffled all the same; it is a shame they do not have any to show us.'

Aster was likewise intrigued and baffled as she struggled to picture such an animal. The image she conjured up in her mind was absurd, so she shook her head and kept reading.

'They are marvelous artisans and musicians. Everyone in this tribe seems to sing, and they do so beautifully. It is strange to see them with the Drykas, mixing their music and getting along so well as they discuss their horses and trade. Two very different and yet indescribably similar cultures coming together. Perhaps I will stay with these Benshira for some time if they allow it.'

Aster's pulse pounded. Did they?! Did Verta stay with the Benshira, writing on their day-to-day life and survival as they had with the Drykas? It would be like hitting the jackpot; breath held in her throat, Aster flipped the page, and blinked as she stared down at one more entry, and then a blank page.

"What? No," she frowned, flipping quickly through the rest of the book. But aside from that last entry, the rest of the pages were empty.

"Petch it all," she muttered, and for an instance was filled with the deeply childish but intense urge to stomp her foot. She'd been so close! Closing her eyes, Aster inhaled deeply, forcing herself to calm down. She'd still been lucky to discover the journal; she'd found out a lot, far more than she had known, and perhaps more than what she could have hoped for, really.

Nomadic, tribes, horses, music, singing...they were all small and perhaps useless facts about the Benshira, but it sent a thrill through her to know. Perhaps she could use these small facts of what was probably the bare bones of how the Benshira lived to piece together what or who her new form had been.

Caught somewhere between ecstatic and disappointed, Aster flipped back to the last entry and read it over. It wasn't dated, unlike the others, she noticed.

'I have arrived in Sunberth. I have been travelling for oh so long, seeing and learning so much; I have spent long periods of times in cities with certain races and cultures, so much time that I integrated myself and for a time lived like them and became welcomed by them. But now I am starting to tire of such adventures. Perhaps I will settle finally here. I am alone here.'

The sentence was simple, but it struck a chord deep within Aster. She frowned, and kept reading.

Word Count: 863
Total: 3,134
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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)

Between Dusty Pages

Postby Asterope on February 29th, 2020, 6:07 pm

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'My original traveling guide long since left me. I was never alone when I traveled, though; those whose company I found myself in became my friends and family, and we helped each other to survive. So even if I am alone now, I know in my heart I am never alone, for how many others are lucky enough to say their family spans across several regions of our land, across culture and race? I am alone, but I know I am remembered with love and fondness, and I do the same for those that welcomed me into their lives, and so I will never truly be alone again.'

Aster stared down at the last few sentences inked onto the page. She had a feeling this mysterious person who had traveled from Riverfall to Sunberth and apparently quite a few places in-between those two locations had met more people than she ever had, but...it still resonated with her. 'I know that I am remembered with love and fondness, and I do the same...so I will never truly be alone again.' Aster replayed the words in her mind as she slowly shut the tattered leatherbound book.

It was a concept she had recently begun to come to terms with, but to see it written out so plainly, and by another's hand, well. It made it seem like something much more concrete than just a wishful thought inside her head, one she had come up with in a desperate attempt to combat her loneliness.

Resting her palm on the cover of the journal, Aster made a mental note to come back some time, when she could, and copy down some of the more important passages from Verta's journal. Those scarce few about the Benshira, certainly, but also the last one, written at an unspecified time.

Aster wondered if Verta had lived the rest of their life in Sunberth; if they had found other family here to keep them company, if perhaps they had children or grandchildren. Where were they buried? Could they feasibly still be alive? She wished that there had been an indication of a year somewhere in the writings, so that she could at least make an educated guess.

Regardless, she had found some of what she was looking for. There might be more information about the Benshira or the desert or those strange humped creatures tucked away somewhere inside one of the many other journals she still had yet to look through, but Aster had a feeling that she was out of time.

Gathering up the books, she hastily returned to the shelves where she had grabbed them and put them back as quickly as she could. She muttered an apology to Remmy for messing up whatever order they had been in, assuming there was one to begin with, and finally placed Verta's journal back on the shelf last. Wiping her dusty hands off on her clothes, Aster made a beeline for the front door.

Remmy was nowhere to be found; strange, Aster hadn't heard the door open. Perhaps she was just lurking somewhere in the shelves. "Thank you," she called over her shoulder into the library, just in case, and then ducked out through the door.

It was mid-evening now at least, but not so late that Aster had to worry about shifting forms. That was good, at least. Glancing around, she took off at a run down the alley the way she'd come, skidding around the corner on the other side. She slowed to a jog and then a walk as she approached the Pig's Foot tavern, not wanting to seem out of breath. She could still hear shouting inside; was the fight still going on?

She milled around outside the door, wringing her hands which were still slightly grimy, and chewing her lip as she debated, pacing back and forth. Had Alard perhaps already come outside to look for her? If he had, then she was well and truly screwed. If not, it was probably the best place for her to be. Sneaking back inside probably wouldn't go over well either way.

With a defeated sigh, Aster leaned against the wall of the tavern outside the door and waited. She didn't have to wait long; after a few chimes, the door to the tavern flew open, and Alard stumbled out, swearing and muttering under his breath. What a shame.

His nose and lip were bloody, and he had a bruise welling up on the side of his face just below his eye. His knuckles were bruised and bloodied as well, and Aster wouldn't be surprised if he had a few nasty injuries hidden under his clothes as well.

"There you are," he slurred, though Aster wasn't sure if it was mostly from drunkenness or pain and injury. Probably a mixture of both. Alard turned, spitting blood onto the street. "Where the petch've you been, eh?"

Aster swallowed hard. She was a bad liar, and she had no idea how long she'd been gone for or if Alard had realized. Well, here goes nothing, she thought, inhaling deeply. "I've been out here," she said, keeping her voice as steady as possible as she blinked up at Alard, trying her best to look innocent.

Was she trying too hard? She didn't know. Thank the gods he was drunk; that at least made it a bit easier. Alard scowled at her. "Oh? And why's that?" He seemed angry, but he wasn't calling her out for lying; Aster's chest felt tight as she curled one of her hands into the hem of her shirt, trying her best to remain calm and appear neutral. Still, her gaze flickered around nervously.

"Uhm, because of the fight." Shit, she was stammering. Her nerves were starting to get the better of her. She rushed to elaborate. "There was a lot going on, and so many people were getting involved, I got scared. I didn't want to get dragged into it or hit by anything, so I came to wait outside."

Alard squinted at her, staring for a long moment. Aster could feel her palms beginning to sweat. Were her lips always so dry? She wet them nervously. Finally, Alard grunted. "Prob'ly for the best, honestly," he muttered, and Aster let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding as she nodded slightly.

Her heart was pounding in her chest; she felt like she'd just run a hundred miles. Were her legs shaking? She'd lied to Alard before, but this one had been a risk given the number of unknowns in the situation.

"Petch it all," Alard muttered, wiping blood from his nose. "By gods, I hurt. C'mon, let's go. I need to get cleaned up. Could use a good bath and a massage, sunshine."

Oh, joy. Aster grimaced slightly, though she tried to school her expression. Thankfully, drunk as he was, Alard didn't seem to notice. Instead, he just grabbed Aster by the wrist, leading her away from the tavern and back towards the barracks.

Well, she supposed she couldn't complain too much, given what she'd gotten away with and what she'd been lucky enough to find. Lost in thought about what she'd read in the library, she followed Alard's stumbling lead back to the apartment.

Word Count: 1,213
Total: 4,347
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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