Solo Lost and Found

Leaving one life behind and finding a whole new family.

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Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on February 27th, 2020, 3:33 am

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90th of winter, 519 AV

Alard, predictably, hadn't been pleased with her latest stunt. In fact, he'd been downright furious. She was locked in the apartment with threats of never being allowed outside again looming over her, her back sore from the whip Alard had procured especially for the occasion. The broken skin and bruises were beginning to heal finally, but there had been a period of time afterwards where even breathing hurt.

She lay on her cot for days, tears streaming down her face and drying on her skin only for more to follow the same tracks. Was it really worth it? She'd told Imogen it was. Was it?

She had to keep believing it was true, but it was getting so hard. The dagger hidden under the floorboard in the closet practically screamed her name, but she knew she would never win a fight against Alard, and she couldn't keep pulling these stunts if she wanted to survive intact; but without those small doses of freedom, she would have long ago gone insane.

Unbidden, the trip to the Outpost that had caused all this came to mind. 'Why don't you just stay here?' The echo of Atmish's voice rang in her head, almost mockingly. Why didn't she? Would Alard be able to follow her to the Outpost? Did he even know it existed?

Even if he did, would he be able to find her there, in territory unfamiliar to both of them? If he could, would he even have a claim over here there? So many questions, as usual, and par for the course, no answers. But the thought wouldn't leave Aster's mind.

She would essentially be trapped, of course; assuming she was safe in the Outpost, she wouldn't be able to return to Sunberth. Alard would be on the look-out for her, and if he found her...well. She'd be lucky to survive, of that much she was certain.

She would have to stay in the Outpost until she was confident enough to return; that she either had enough money to get herself out of Sunberth right away, or the skills to take Alard in a fight and win. Both were long roads; she could see them stretching into the distance, the goals barely in sight. But the road she was on now was the longest; she didn't even know if it had an end.

So without even realizing it, it seemed that her decision was made. It was terrifying, that much was true; she knew nobody, really, had no money, no job lined up, nowhere to stay...but she would figure it out. She had to. She couldn't keep staying here, and she'd been given an open opportunity to get out, get away. It was conditional, a fancy safe house essentially, but it was the best she was going to get. Better than she could have asked for, really.

Aster waited. She waited for her back to heal up enough that walking didn't make her cringe, and she waited for Alard to think she had grown complacent again, and she waited for her moment.

She hoped Imogen would know where to come find her. But the girl was smart; Aster was sure she would figure it out. Almost without realizing it, her chance came one day. Aster woke groggily from her sleep to Alard leaving the apartment, slamming and locking the door behind him. She blinked sleepily, listening to his footsteps fade away.

She suddenly knew it was time to act. Scrambling to her feet, Aster threw off her blankets, heart pounding in her chest. Her back still ached slightly, but she ignored it. She scrambled around the apartment, grabbing a worn bag and scampering into the closet.

She pried up the floorboard hiding her secret stash of items, and carefully pulled it out; in went the knickknacks from Jala and Imogen, and carefully the Kihala statuette followed, along with anything else she had collected over her time with Alard. Aster fastened the cloak around her, and grabbed the dagger, tucking it into the waistband of her pants.

Double-checking to make sure she had all of her few belongings, Aster didn't bother replacing the floorboard as she stood up. She grabbed her few changes of clothing as well, stuffing those into her bag, and looked around the apartment. Was there anything she was forgetting?

She had no money. Surely Alard kept his spare coins somewhere in the apartment? He didn't carry all his money on him at once, unless he was somehow that stupid. Aster quickly searched through the apartment, tearing through dresser drawers and looking under furniture; she had nearly given up when she finally stuck her arm underneath Alard's mattress, and her fingers brushed a cloth pouch that jingled, the sound muffled by the mattress.

"Jackpot," she mumbled, pulling the pouch out. She didn't bother to count it, instead simply tossing it into her bag. Her own belongings, check, weapon, check, clothing, check, money, check...she swept her gaze around the apartment one last time and then turned. Now to deal with the door.

Word Count: 842

Money Note :
300 GM acquired in this challenge finally being claimed!
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Asterope
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Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on March 1st, 2020, 7:40 am

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Aster tried the door handle, but sure enough, it was locked. She had no idea how to pick a lock, nor the necessary equipment to do so. Her best bet was breaking the handle; she certainly wasn't strong enough to break the whole door down, and that would draw a little more attention than she would like.

The window was out as an option entirely, given how high up they were. Inhaling deeply, Aster clenched her jaw, gritting her teeth, and grabbed her dagger, slamming down on the door handle with the pommel.

Perhaps the handle was older and weaker than she thought, because it dented immediately, warping downwards. Aster tried again, and felt the lock jiggle loosely whereas before it had been solid. A few more strikes, and the handle came loose entirely, dropping to the floor with a clatter, and the door swung open.

Aster peered out into the hallway, but it seemed to be empty. Inhaling deeply, she slipped out of the apartment and into the hall, and began walking, tucking the dagger back into her waistband. She tried to keep a casual pace even though her legs were itching to break into a run; she could feel a cold bead of sweat rolling down her spine, and she swallowed hard.

She was so close; if she could get out of the barracks, then she was practically home free. She made her way downstairs and out the front door, somehow managing not to run into anyone. She walked forwards a few steps when someone whistled, and she jerked her head up, watching a member of the Sun's Birth approach her.

"You there, you're Alard's slave, aren't you?" He asked, squinting down at her.

Aster opened her mouth to respond, taking a half-step back, and then whirled on her heel and ran. Oh, but her back ached; still, she ignored it, gritting her teeth and sprinting all out, pumping her legs as she raced down the street towards the river.

"Oy! Stop her!" The guard behind her bellowed, and Aster could hear shouting.

"Oh, petch it all," she muttered. She didn't know the city well enough to risk taking shortcuts through alleyways or down side streets; she was just going to have to book it and hope she could stay ahead of them at the river crossing.

Aster risked a glance behind her as she sprinted down the street, dodging between people. Shit, how was he so fast?! The Sun's Birth member was gaining on her, and if she didn't think of something fast, he was going to catch her.

She didn't come all this way to lose now. Aster skidded to a halt by the river, looking around desperately for a ferry, when she felt her arm get grabbed. She spun on her heel, and slammed her head forward at a downwards angle so that her horns hit the man square in the face.

They were much more solid than even her own head, though the impact left an unpleasant vibration rattling down through her skull. The man reached up to grab at her horns, swearing; he had a nasty bruise on his cheek in the curved shape of her horn already, and his nose was bleeding.

Aster jerked her head back, just barely managing to break his grip on her horns, and glanced behind her at the river. The man lunged forward at her, and she hit the ground. He stumbled over her, and Aster shoved, kicking at his shins, sending him teetering back towards the river.

Aster scrambled to her feet and gave the man one good, hard push as he teetered on the edge. He fell backwards with a resounding splash, and Aster was already running down along the river to find a ferry across, leaving the man to fish himself out of the water. She could hear him shouting, this time accompanied the scrape of a sword unsheathing.

That wasn't good; she'd really pissed him off now. Managing to catch a ferry, she hopped on, turning to watch the man just barely straightening up as she began to cross the river. Still, that wasn't good; from all the shouting and commotion, it meant that Alard might know she was gone, and even if he didn't, she'd likely still have any Sun's Birth who spotted her on her tail.

She was going to have to try and be fast. Departing on the other side of the river, Aster began a brisk jog towards the outskirts of the city; she knew where she was going. Her back protested, sore even more from the brief scuffle she'd gotten into, but Aster bit hard on her tongue and kept going. When she couldn't jog anymore, she dropped into a fast-paced walk, struggling to catch her breath but not daring to slow down any further.

Somehow, she managed to make it to the overlook by the Dust Bed Ridge without further altercation with the Sun's Birth. She was certain if she stuck around for much longer, though, that wouldn't continue to be the case.

Inhaling deeply, Aster pushed her way into the dovecote, letting the door shut behind her. A few moments later, she emerged into the heat of the Outpost.

Word Count: 873
Total: 1,715
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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: 520
Words: 529972
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on March 1st, 2020, 8:21 am

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Aster stumbled out of the dovecote, inhaling the fresh, warm air. She blinked, looking around. She had to find Atmish; he was the only person she knew here. Perhaps he could help her, at least point her in the right direction. She had no idea how much change she'd stolen from Alard, but it had to be enough at least for a room somewhere, right? Surely a place built for travelers had at least one inn.

But she had no idea where to find him. Perhaps people at the courtyard restaurant would know. Hiking her bag up on her shoulders, Aster set off to find the restaurant again. She remembered it had been not far from the fountain near the entrance...

It took a bit of wandering around, but eventually, Aster spotted the open archway into the courtyard. The same woman from last time greeted her, and Aster sat down at one of the tables, suddenly feeling exhausted.

"Do you know a Benshira man named Atmish?" She asked the hostess, and she nodded.

"Oh yes, Atmish comes in just about every afternoon for lunch and tea. He'll probably be around shortly, if you want to wait for him," Mela said, and Aster nodded.

"Please, if that's okay," she sighed.

"Of course! If you want anything, just let me know." She smiled again, and whisked away to take care of other business. Aster rested her cheek on the table. She hoped that wasn't rude, but she was suddenly so tired that she didn't really care. The fruity tea she'd had last time sounded good just about now, but even the thought of digging through her bag for the stolen pouch of coins took up too much energy.

So Aster sat and waited, eyes closed, enjoying the dampened sunshine coming through the linen sheets that covered the courtyard. She had no idea how long passed when she suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder.

Blearily, Aster looked up, blinking as Atmish's face came into focus. "By Yahal's wings, you look awful," he said, bluntly, as he pulled up a chair and sat down beside Aster. "Never thought I'd say that about the most splendid woman I've seen, but here we are. What happened?"

Yahal's wings? Did Yahal have wings? Or was that just a strange saying? The most splendid woman he'd seen? Her? Aster blinked a few more times to bring herself back to the present as the thoughts collided clumsily in her head, wincing as she stretched out her back. "Ran away," she said, and oh, her voice was so raspy. She winced slightly; she sounded as if she hadn't had anything to drink in a decade, and she sort of felt like it, too.

"Here," Atmish handed her a waterskin, and Aster gratefully took a few deep gulps from it. It tasted fresh and surprisingly cool; it must have been refilled recently.

Clearing her throat, Aster wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "Thank you." Atmish nodded, motioning for her to take another drink, so she did so.

"Now, explain," he said, so Aster did. She told him about returning to Alard after her last trip to the Outpost, the beating she'd gotten, how she hadn't been able to stop thinking about what he told her...so she'd taken her few things and ran.

"I see," Atmish said after a moment, rubbing his jaw. "That must have taken a lot of strength, knowing the potential consequences. It was brave, if foolish, of you. But I am glad you made it here alright. I have been doing some thinking since I last saw you. Come," he stood, offering his hand to Aster. "Are you okay to walk?"

Aster nodded, and took his hand standing and following him out of the courtyard. He lead her to the plant-lined pathways that she and Imogen had walked previously, his pace leisurely as he strolled along, hands clasped behind his back, Aster walking beside him.

"I was wondering which tribe you might belong to," he explained, as they walked. "I thought perhaps the Selban, if you played instruments, but they tend to be much fairer haired than the rest of us, and you have the dark hair that most Benshira do."

Aster nodded, listening as he continued talking. "So then I thought perhaps the Kois, though singing is more their specialty than instruments are. I even returned to our gathering city where we often meet to ask around, and, well..." Atmish rubbed his jaw again.

"I believe I may have something. But first, let us deal with your current issues, yes?" Aster blinked at him; what had he been going to say? Before she could protest, he held a hand up. "Trust me, I will explain, but it is better done after you have settled and calmed and I can do so properly. You have some coin?"

Aster hesitated, nodding; digging around in her bag, she pulled out the pouch, and opened it up, peeking inside. Oh. That was more than she'd been expecting. "Wonderful," Atmish smiled. "Come. First, let us settle your lodgings. Then I will show you where to get some new clothes and to clean up."

Word Count: 865
Total: 2,580
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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: 520
Words: 529972
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on March 1st, 2020, 8:27 am

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Atmish lead her back towards the main square, into a building built into the wall. Inside, the decor was just as beautiful and elaborate as anything Aster had seen outside, if not more so. "This is the Khamsin Inn," Atmish explained. "You can stay here for as long as you like."

Aster approached the front counter, where a woman smiled in greeting. She smiled slightly wider upon seeing Aster, glancing up at her horns. "Welcome, daughter of Syna. What can I do for you?"

Aster returned the smile hesitantly. "I'll take the cheapest room you have, please." The woman nodded.

"That will be 2 gold Mizas a day. How long are you staying?" She asked, scribbling something down in her ledger.

"Uhm, indefinitely, for now," Aster said. The woman nodded, humming.

"Name?"

"Asterope."

"Wonderful. Well then, for now you can give me the coin for the rest of the season to stay here, and after that we can discuss next season's rent." The woman smiled at her. Aster nodded, fishing out the necessary Mizas and handing them over, and the woman gave her a key in exchange, directing her to her room.

Atmish nodded at Aster when she turned back around. He had pulled a map out, and motioned her over. "Here is the bazaar; you can find anything. I suggest you pick up some new clothes. And here is the Tranquility Spa. It wouldn't hurt to go get cleaned up. If you're too tired to do it today, then perhaps tomorrow, at least."

Aster nodded, thanking him and taking the map when he offered it to her. Imogen still had the other one. "Meet me back at the Courtyard tonight at sunset. I'll see if I can't bring some tools to try and get this off," he added, reaching up to tap at Aster's collar. She glanced down at it; she'd nearly completely forgotten about it, honestly, she was so used to wearing it.

"Thank you," she said, as sincerely as she could. Was she really finally going to be free? It felt surreal, but in an uneasy way. Because was she, really? Until she could figure out a way out of Sunberth, she was trapped in the Outpost. A whole city, sure, but trapped nonetheless. And she still wasn't sure if Alard would be able to find her.

Not free, then. Not quite yet. She had a feeling she would only be free when she either put an expanse of land or ocean between her and Alard, or until she killed him herself. But for now, she was at least no longer directly a slave. And that felt good.

Waving Atmish off, she decided to go to her room and get some rest. Fresh clothing and cleaning up sounded appealing, but she was so tired, she just wanted to rest. She made her way to her room, marveling at the elaborate and beautiful furniture, and set her bag down before collapsing onto the bed, letting out a groan of relief at how soft it was beneath her aching body.

Aster simply lay there, basking in the feeling of her own space, her own bed (a comfortable one, at that), of simply being out of Sunberth, in a new place with warm, clean air. It was like being in a dream; she never could have imagined this happening, certainly not so quickly or easily. The dovecote was a blessing; the Outpost was too. Without them, she would still be stuck in the apartment in the barracks, trying to figure out how she was going to get away.

Perhaps here she could learn to fight properly. She could take the time to heal and recover and maybe, just maybe, she could learn enough to go back and wreak havoc on Alard. That was a nice thought.

Before she knew it, Aster blinked and glanced to the window and realized that the sun was setting. She was going to be late if she didn't hurry. Scrambling out of bed, she bounded for the door, deciding at the last second to take her bag with her just in case, and left to meet Atmish at the courtyard restaurant.

Word Count: 696
Total: 3,276

Ledger :
-6 GM for 3 days stay at the Khamsin Inn (400 sq ft room)
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 520
Words: 529972
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)

Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on March 1st, 2020, 9:16 am

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When Aster showed up, it wasn't quite sunset yet. Atmish was already there; she could see him sitting at a table in the corner with someone else. Aster approached, and Atmish spotted her, waving her over with a smile.

"Aster, come, have a seat." Asterope walked over, sitting down. The person sitting with Atmish was an elderly woman; in fact, she looked ancient. Clouded eyes peered over at Aster from out of a sunken face, the woman's dark skin wrinkled. Still, she gave a wobbly, mostly toothless smile.

"Aster," she said, and her voice was surprisingly strong. "So very nice to meet you. My name is Lesha."

"It's nice to meet you, miss Lesha," Aster said, politely, and the old woman wheezed out a laugh.

"There's no need for 'miss' anything, my dear. Please, sit, join us for tea." Lesha gestured with one knobbly hand to the chair that Aster was already sitting in before pointing at the tea cup in front of her.

Bemusedly, Atmish filled the teacup with the same tea from the last time she'd been there. Aster murmured her thanks, taking a sip. "Lesha is a very old member of the Kois tribe. She has to be...oh, something like seventy-five now."

Straightening up, Atmish took a sip of his own tea. "Lesha, why don't you tell Aster the story of your aunt?" he prodded, gently, and Lesha sighed.

"Oh, that was so sad. It still makes me sad, Atmish. Why must you bring back such painful memories for an old woman?" But her admonishment was gentle, and after a moment, Lesha looked at Aster.

"He was very insistent that I meet you, I don't know why. We aren't even from the same tribe, so if he's planning on marrying you, I don't really care," Lesha said, and Aster choked on the sip of tea she was taking. Marriage?! She looked at Atmish with wide eyes, and he chuckled into his own teacup, waving his hand and shaking his head.

"But he was asking around about a Benshira lady, very vague, and then he was adamant that I come meet you. And now this. Oh, let me see if I remember..." Lesha sighed, scratching her cheek.

"When I was a young girl, very young, still a child, I had an aunt. She wasn't too much older than me, perhaps only by ten years or so, but in any case. I had an aunt, and she was a sweet woman. She cared for me deeply and we spent much time together. And oh, she loved to dance and sing, and she played the harp so well Rhaus would have cried to hear it," Lesha sighed.

"Rhaus?" Aster asked, glancing to Atmish.

"God of music," he murmured back, then motioned for her to keep listening.

"Anyway, she played so well that a rather notable young Selban man fell in love with her when I was only ten. Arrangements were made, and off she went to become a Selban and marry him. Now we were quite close, as I mentioned, so naturally I was sad that she had decided to marry to another tribe, but she seemed happy enough." Lesha frowned down into her teacup.

"The next time I saw the Selban tribe, of course, I was so excited to see my aunt. But she wasn't there. And when I asked around, well...it turned out she had been captured as a slave, and taken someplace far away. And I never saw her again." Deep sadness tinged Lesha's voice, and Aster swallowed. A slave? Why was Atmish having this old woman tell her this?

"I'm...sorry for your loss. What was her name?" Aster asked, because it was all she could think to do.

"Oh, don't be sorry, my dear. It was a long time ago. Her name was Savita," Lesha said, with a sad smile.

The sun set, then; Aster felt the glow beneath her skin, and without thinking twice, knew she wanted to be in her Benshira form. The glow slowly settled as the sun slipped below the horizon, leaving her in her mortal seeming sitting across from Lesha. And Lesha began to cry.

She stood abruptly, her old legs stumbling, her face crinkling as she began to sob. "What sort of a sick trick do you think this is, Atmish? I'm no fool! My aunt is gone, long gone," Lesha pointed with a shaking hand at the Benshira man.

"It was a long shot indeed," he breathed, "But I am glad I was right. You are correct in one sense, Lesha. This is not your Savita," he looked at Aster, and everything clicked into place.

Word Count: 776
Total: 4,052
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 520
Words: 529972
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)

Lost and Found

Postby Asterope on March 1st, 2020, 9:20 am

Image
She was Savita? Or at least, she looked like Savita had. But why? How? Everything began to spin as Aster stared in shock between Atmish and Lesha. How had he found...someone related to her? At least, related to the person she looked like.

Had she been Savita? Had she lived that life, enslaved twice now? Or was she just being given her appearance for some unknown reason? And...if Lesha was still alive, then Savita's death, for surely she must be dead, was recent. At least, in the grand scheme of things; within the last sixty or seventy years.

But then...how much time had she spent with Syna, if she was Savita? If not? There were so many questions swirling through her head. Aster felt dizzy. She tried to focus as Atmish explained as gently as he could to Lesha.

"She is one of Syna's. You know they take different seemings. I do not know if maybe, once, long ago she was Savita, or if she just looks like her. But her body had a history, had the callouses of a musician and a dancer, so I decided to go out on a limb and search," Atmish explained. Lesha was staring at Aster, tears dripping down her wrinkled old face, and Aster was struck with the realization that in some way or another, this woman was family.

"My Savita," Lesha whispered, her arms dropping to her side. "My auntie. You do not remember me?"

"I'm sorry," Aster said, quietly. "I don't. It's as Atmish says, I don't...I don't know exactly how this works. But whether I was Savita or whether I have simply been graced with her form, to me, that makes you family of sort. I understand if you don't want anything to do with me, but...I would like very much if we could get to know each other," Aster said, and she meant it.

Lesha shuffled over to her, hunched slightly shorter than Aster was, and reached up, touching her face with trembling hands. Aster blinked back tears of her own, and let out a small laugh when Lesha embraced her. She returned the hug.

The rest of the evening was spent talking about their lives so far; Lesha talked about her husband, and children, and grandchildren. All Aster's family, in some strange way. In turn, Aster talked about what little life experience she had.

Bells passed, and eventually, Lesha grew tired. "I'm afraid I'm not as young as I used to be. It's well past my bedtime," she said to Aster, in her thickly accented voice.

"Oh, my Savita. It was the best gift in the world to be able to see you again. I will come visit when I can, or perhaps send one of my grandchildren," Lesha told Aster, reaching for her hand and squeezing it. Aster nodded with a gentle smile.

"I look forward to it," she said, sincerely. Atmish stood, stretching.

"I should take her back to the dovecote. Thank you for coming," he said, to Aster.

She surprised them both by throwing her arms around his neck in a hug. "No, thank you," she said, squeezing before stepping back. "You didn't have to do any of this for me. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. To know a little bit more about who I might be, and to know that in a strange sense, I have family. That I belong somewhere." Aster smiled at him tiredly.

The day had been a whirlwind and then some, running away and then finding...well, her family. How very strange. And there were a lot of implications that came with that as well. She had a lot to think about.

Atmish shrugged, smiling slightly at her. "You piqued my interest, what can I say. I do hope we can become good friends while you stay here at the Outpost. Perhaps I can teach you a little bit about living like a Benshira," he said, with a wink.

Aster smiled and nodded. "I think I'd like that a lot."

She walked Atmish and Lesha back to the dovecote, leaving her...well, her niece, technically, with another deep hug. After that, Aster returned to the inn, letting herself back into her room and locking the door behind her.

Her head was still spinning. Everything felt...so strange, surreal. It had all happened so fast, yet there she was. It was like being in a dream, and Aster was worried that she would wake up back in her cot in Alard's apartment. Shit, with everything that had happened, she'd completely forgotten about getting her collar off, too. She'd have to ask Atmish next time she saw him.

But she was too exhausted to stay up and fret over any of that. She collapsed back onto her bed, not even kicking off her shoes, and sleep claimed her within minutes. Aster slept soundly that night, underneath unfamiliar stars, and dreamed of nothing.

Word Count: 821
Total: 4,873
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 520
Words: 529972
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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