Solo A Clean Slate

Aster washes away her worries...and some dirt. A lot of dirt.

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A Clean Slate

Postby Asterope on March 18th, 2020, 1:50 am

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1st of spring, 520 AV

The season had officially ticked over to spring; Aster could tell by the completed shift in colour of her hair, the tips no longer containing any hint of fawn brown, the strands now entirely a warm honey gold. It was spring. A new season, a new year.

She lay on the bed in her room at the inn, staring up at the ceiling. She had been so excited at all of the possibilities now that she was away from Alard and Sunberth...only to lie in bed for the past few days, overwhelmed and uncertain and listless. She didn't know what to do with herself.

With a long, drawn out sigh, Asterope sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. There had been talk of getting herself cleaned up and some new clothes when she arrived at the Outpost, and she figured it was about time she actually did so. She stretched, reaching up to rub at her neck, then paused to let her fingertips sweep over the naked expanse of healing skin.

It felt strange to be without her collar. Atmish had come by again at some point to briefly check-in on her and had helped her remove it, but she hadn't seen him since then. She recalled the feeling of a weight being lifted, quite literally, but other than that she had been avoiding addressing it; it was such a shock it almost made her feel numb.

The skin where the collar had sat around her neck was raw, too, and still tender. She'd been neglecting that as well. She carefully passed her hands around the ring of reddened skin, concentrating; her hands glowed gently as Aster concentrated, ageing the tender skin slightly, speeding up the healing process marginally.

With a sigh, she dropped her hands into her lap again. She wondered how much of a mess she looked; she was sure if she tried she could find a mirror, but a part of her blanched at the thought. She didn't want to see herself right now. She just wanted to curl back up in bed.

Gritting her teeth, Aster forced herself to her feet. She grabbed her money pouch, her map, and put her boots on before she left the room, locking it behind her. She traipsed down the stairs, her footsteps perhaps slightly too heavy for a creature of elegance such as herself, and paused at the front desk to ask about a place to get cleaned up.

The woman looked at her with what felt like thinly-veiled pity, and Asterope wound her arms around her torso, avoiding meeting the other woman's gaze as she was given directions to a spa. With a muttered thanks, Aster was on her way, walking with her head ducked slightly, both to avoid any stares and to focus on the map she held clutched in her hands.

She was at the Khamsin Inn, and the spa was there, and the woman had told her to turn...it took a bit of navigating and a bit of backtracking, but eventually, Asterope made her way to the spa. Walking inside, Aster immediately felt overwhelmed by the beautiful and elegant building, and despite herself, felt out of place.

A woman with dark, gilded skin and multiple arms approached her, her features school into a perfectly welcoming smile. Aster blinked; she recalled reading about people with several pairs of arms who also lived in the desert, called Eypharians. She supposed it made sense for the Outpost to be popular for people of the desert; it was rather hot, and all of the windows she had passed revealed a vast expanse of sand.

"Hello," The woman greeted her. "Come, right this way, please. We'll get you undressed and bathing right away." Aster opened her mouth to say something, then nodded, and followed the woman.

She was lead to a small and private bathing chamber, where another woman waited. The Eypharian vanished quietly as the new woman smiled broadly at Aster. "Hello! My name is Gracie. I'll be helping you bathe today."

Aster recoiled slightly at that. "Oh, uhm, I don't think I really need any help," she stammered, as Gracie ushered her firmly into the room, closing the door.
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A Clean Slate

Postby Asterope on March 18th, 2020, 1:51 am

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"Well, then why did you come to a spa, silly?" The words were gentle and playful, and Gracie was already getting to work briskly pulling Aster's shirt over her head. "Relax! You don't have to be shy, this is my job. I promise not to do anything that will make you uncomfortable. Besides, I think you'll find an extra pair of hands can make bathing much easier."

Aster struggled for a moment and then gave in. She could feel her cheeks heating as she allowed Gracie to help her undress, setting her dirty and tattered clothes aside. Nudity had always been something that Aster was shy of, and she didn't quite know why. Something about it just felt too intimate and vulnerable.

Gracie then guided her into the small bathing pool, and oh, that was nice. Aster felt the tension bleed out of her as she stepped into the hot water, steam rising gently from the pool. She sat down slowly, sinking into the water up to her shoulders, small waves lapping at her as she settled in and let out an involuntary sigh of bliss.

She heard Gracie giggle from behind her. "Isn't that the best feeling? I love stepping into a hot bath when I'm all tired and dirty. Here, what scent soaps do you want?"

She rattled off a list of floral, fruity, and other exotic scents to Aster, and the Eth blinked as she turned her head to look to Gracie. "Whatever you think is best," Aster said, uncertainly. She was entirely unused to this level of comfort and pampering, and she quite frankly had no idea what sort of perfumed scents she might like.

Gracie hummed thoughtfully, hovering over a few crystal bottles before plucking a few up and padding back over to Aster. She unstopped one of the bottles, and leaned over to wave it under Aster's now. "Smell," she demanded, as if Aster had any other choice.

Aster inhaled deeply, and was pleasantly surprised by something faintly sweet but floral, with the barest hint of spice underneath it. It was a more complex smell than she had been expecting. Gracie giggled, clearly pleased by Aster's reaction. "I love this blend. It's so good," she sighed.

"I'm going to start on your hair first, just relax for now." Aster nodded hesitantly; then again, relaxing wasn't hard to do in the heated water, even in such a strange environment and with a stranger seeing her naked. Gracie tugged Aster's hair free, wetting it with handfuls of the water before lathering up the soap in her hands and beginning to run it through Aster's tangled mane.

"Sorry it's a bit knotted," Aster mumbled, sinking lower into the water out of embarrassment, but Gracie just tsked.

"Don't worry your pretty little head. You're here to relax. Besides, I've seen way worse, trust me," she laughed, gently combing through Aster's hair with her fingers to detangle it. "I'll do the best I can but we're just getting you cleaned up here. If you want after for a bit extra I can give you a good and proper thorough brushing," she offered, and Aster nodded, wincing slightly as a particularly rough knot tugged at her scalp.

"That would be nice," she murmured. For extra; she hadn't even considered how much this might cost. She hoped it wouldn't be too much. The money she'd stolen from Alard was a decent chunk of change, but she would need it for supplies and rent and other necessities. This seemed far beyond a necessity; this type of pampering was a full-blown luxury, as far as Aster was concerned.

Oh, but it was so nice, and Aster couldn't help but lean her head back as Gracie gently scratched her nails over Aster's scalp. Gracie giggled. "It's nice, isn't it?" Aster hummed her agreement.

"So, what's your name? Where are you visiting the Outpost from?" The questions were casual, friendly, but Aster felt herself tense up slightly.

"Asterope. I'm here from Sunberth," she said after a moment, and Gracie made a noise of understanding in the back of her throat.

"I've heard that's not a very fun place. Well, then, we won't talk about it," she declared, as she began rinsing the suds from Aster's hair. "Because you're here to relax and enjoy yourself. Do I make myself clear?" She leaned over to wag a finger in the Eth's face, eyes sparkling, and Aster found her lips curving into a faint ghost of a smile despite herself.

Looking pleased and particularly proud of herself, Gracie resumed rinsing out Aster's hair. After that she lathered a thick, creamy substance into it, claiming it needed to sit, and then got to work helping Aster wash her body. It was deeply embarrassing, but Gracie chattered on and on to distract her, and Aster could appreciate that her hands were gentle but firm and almost clinical in a way that reminded Aster of her own way of touching patients.

It was just her job, Aster reminded herself, and besides, Gracie seemed entirely nonjudgmental, and kept her gaze either on Aster's face or focused solely on the body part she was scrubbing. And really, she had been right; Aster was kind of glad for the extra pair of hands, because she was caked in dirt from head to toe. As they both scrubbed at her with washcloths, Aster watched the water around her begin to turn brown as the dirt came off her. She hadn't had such a thorough cleaning in, well...a very long time.
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A Clean Slate

Postby Asterope on March 18th, 2020, 1:52 am

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The skin underneath the dirt was pink from being scrubbed at, but clean and surprisingly soft from whatever soap Gracie was using. Aster wondered if Imogen would like it here; the girl could use a deep cleaning herself. Gracie rinsed her hair again as Aster finished scrubbing herself down, and by the time she stepped out of the bathing pool clean and dripping wet, the water was near black.

Aster wrinkled her nose as she looked at it, and Gracie laughed as she offered the Eth a towel. Aster dried herself off while Gracie used a smaller towel to squeeze the excess water out of her hair; once she was mostly dry, Gracie handed her a robe that Aster gratefully wrapped around herself.

"Don't worry about it. We get people from all over who have been traveling for ages. That's pretty common," Gracie said, motioning to the tub. "Here, come on. I'll show you to the main pool. You can hang out and relax there for as long as you like; there's food and refreshments too, and we offer other services if you want. Do you want to relax for a bit before I do your hair?"

Aster hesitated then nodded as she followed Gracie into a large central chamber with a sizable bathing pool. There were other people scattered around, in the pool or lounging by the sides, enjoying snacks and drinks and talking in quiet tones. Aster immediately felt out of place again. Gracie seemed to notice, and motioned to an unoccupied cushion.

"Go just relax for a bit. Do you want something? Tea, snacks?" Aster nodded after a long pause.

"Tea would be nice," she admitted, and Gracie smiled triumphantly.

"Hot or iced?"

"Iced," Aster said, remembering the refreshing drink that she'd shared with Atmish.

"I'll have someone bring it to you, and then I'll come get you when it's time for your hair. Until then, seriously, relax," she almost scolded the Eth, before vanishing back down the hallway they'd come from.

Aster wrapped her robe more tightly around her, padding over to the cushion and settling herself in comfortably. After a moment, she lay down, propping her head up on her elbow and simply taking in the room. True to Gracie's word, a glass of cold tea was brought to her a few chimes later. It was cold and sweet and Aster could feel herself relaxing again as she closed her eyes, inhaling the various spa aromas that lingered in the air.
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A Clean Slate

Postby Asterope on March 20th, 2020, 3:17 pm

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Taking another sip of the cool tea, Aster set the glass down carefully before rolling onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. After a moment, she closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. She could smell the lingering scent of the sweet-floral-spicy soap that Gracie had used on her, the wafting scent of lavender from somewhere else mingling with it. The quiet murmurs of conversations from the other spa-goers and the occasional gentle splash of water were the only sounds that filled the large room.

As time ticked gently on, Aster found her breathing evening out into slow, deep inhales, and long, soft exhales, a quiet and steady rhythm as she focused on the steady beating of her heart. It was pleasantly warm, and she the cushion she was laying on was plush and comfortable. Her skin felt soft and clean for the first time in a long time, and the robe that dragged over her skin whenever she shifted slightly was even softer, almost silky in material.

Asterope felt...content? Was that the right word? She hesitated to say safe. Comfortable, certainly. Despite herself, she found her anxieties quieting, easing for the moment, leaving her body relaxed. She'd almost forgotten what it felt like to not be constantly tensed all the time. She still felt out of place, but she was realizing that she could get used to simply enjoying herself and indulging in a little bit of luxury; if she were to really allow herself to admit, despite her initial and continued discomfort, she was actually immensely pleased with the pampering she was getting.

She had learned to ignore her vanity for the most part, especially when it couldn't be indulged, but, well...Aster could indulge her vanity all she wanted here, it seemed. A quiet set of footsteps approaching roused her from her trance-like state, and Aster's eyes fluttered open just as Gracie set a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Enjoying yourself?" She asked quietly, with a wink and a smile. It was almost embarrassing to admit it; Aster felt a flush rise in her cheeks as she nodded, sitting up. "Good," Gracie said firmly. "Come on, let's go do your hair now."

Aster drained the last of her tea before standing, stretching with a few muted cracks from her shoulders and hips; even semi-divine bodies were not entirely immune to mortal trappings such as stiff bones from resting in the same position for too long, no matter how comfortable. Aster followed Gracie back down the hall, to another room, wide open with a low shelf and mirrors running along one wall, along with a few chairs. A few sinks sat on the other side of the room.

"We might need to wash your hair again after I finish combing it, but let's focus on getting all of those knots out for the moment," Gracie explained, leading Aster to one of the chairs. An assortments of tools covered the shelf in front of her; tiny scissors, larger scissors, a comb, a brush, bottles of what appeared to be lotion, perfumes, oils...it almost made Aster dizzy. She had no idea so much could go into caring for one's hair.

"Is it gonna be okay if I give you a bit of a trim? You've got a few split-ends. I wouldn't take much off, just those, less than an inch; I mean, you hardly notice, and you'd make a potato sack look good, but it will look even better," Gracie chattered as Aster sat tentatively.

"I guess," Aster said hesitantly, reaching up to touch the ends of her still-drying hair self-consciously.

Gracie laughed reassuringly. "I promise, you'll hardly even notice I took anything off," she reassured Aster, before setting to worth. She pumped some of the lotion into her hand, rubbing them together and then spreading it through Aster's hair, massaging the product into particularly large knots that still remained.

As she worked, she talked casually and almost endlessly; she encouraged and prompted Aster to respond, even if only with a nod or shrug, and didn't seem perturbed at all by Aster's hesitance to engage in the conversation. But despite herself, Aster found herself talking with the woman as she worked, growing slowly but surely more comfortable.

"I don't suppose you want any colouring done?" Gracie asked, as she carefully picked away at a tangle with the comb. "I mean, I don't even know if it would last for you. We have one or two of your kind that come in regularly, and what with your hair always changing colour...gosh, I wish! That must be so convenient, colours to match the season with no work. Granted, there's really only one season here," Gracie waved a hand broadly.

"Is it always hot here, then?" Aster asked, genuinely curious.

"Pretty much. It gets a little less hot and a little more hot sometimes," Gracie shrugged. "But what you see is about what you get. Enough to drive you a bit crazy sometimes, honestly. I don't know how people live in the desert year-round. But then again what with no winter lately, it's almost the same everywhere, isn't it?"

Aster hummed thoughtfully, wincing slightly as Gracie finally yanked the tangle free; the woman rubbed a soothing finger over the sore spot in apology before moving on. "I like it," Aster said after a moment. "I can't stand the cold. The heat is so much nicer."

Gracie rolled her eyes. "You would say that," she accused, pointing at Aster in the mirror with her comb. "But I bet you don't even sweat!"

Did she sweat? Aster had never really considered it. Come to think of it...she didn't, really. Despite being semi-divine, her body was still physical and prone to certain mortal things, but they were usually vastly reduced to the point of being unnoticeable; like while her bones had cracked slightly during her stretch earlier, she hadn't noticed any pain or feelings of stiffness. Similarly, the most she could recall of sweating was perhaps an ever-so slight dampness along her hairline in extreme heat or physical exertion.

Feelings of physical exhaustion were mostly reserved for her mortal seemings during the night hours, as were the accompanying symptoms that came along with them. She wasn't entirely immune to them during the day; she still had a physical form with bones and blood and muscles, and she could still get hurt, but it was so vastly reduced that she didn't usually pay attention to it.

Her silence and contemplative expression was all that Gracie needed in response. "I knew it," the woman huffed, shaking her head. "Ridiculous, you shiny lot are," she mumbled, but she was smiling, and Aster ducked her head as much as she could sheepishly, but she found a slight smile, unbidden, on her own lips as well.
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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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Overlored (1) Alvadas Seasonal Challenge (1)
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A Clean Slate

Postby Asterope on March 26th, 2020, 3:50 am

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Gracie continued to chat casually with Aster as she brushed out her hair, working out the remaining knots one by one, until she was able to run the brush through without it snagging. Clicking her tongue, pleased with her work, Gracie motioned for Aster to stand.

"We'll give it another wash, get any left over dirt and some of that heavy conditioner out, and then I'll trim it for you," she explained, as she lead Aster to one of the sinks. Asterope nodded, sitting in one of the chairs with her back to the sink, and followed Gracie's directions of leaning her head back over the edge.

Gracie washed Aster's hair for the second time, taking her time and being more thorough this time. Aster felt her eyes closing; the sink rim under the back of her neck was uncomfortable, but the warm water being poured over her hair and Gracie's nails scraping over her scalp was soothing.

The shampoo she used this time had a different scent, something more citrusy. Gracie hummed as she worked, for once taking a break in her nonstop conversation, lathering Aster's hair then rinsing it, following it up with a thicker cream again. She took the time to massage that in for a few moments before rinsing that as well. Finally, she squeezed the remaining water out of Aster's hair before wrapping it in a small, fluffy towel.

Moving back to the chair in front of the mirror, Gracie dried Aster's hair as best as she could before picking up a pair of small scissors off the shelf. Aster eyed them nervously, and Gracie reassuringly pat her shoulder. "I promise, you won't even notice," she said, combing out Aster's hair with her fingers before sectioning off a small bit at the end and beginning to snip.

Aster did her best to sit still, watching Gracie snip off tiny bits of the ends of her hair section by section. Finally, Gracie stepped back. "Done," she announced, and peering into the mirror, Aster had to admit that Gracie had been right; she couldn't really tell a different in the length of her hair.

Finally, Gracie put a few small drops of oil into the palms of her hands, rubbing them together and then through Aster's hair. "It'll be nice and shiny and soft when it dries, and even though I didn't take off much, it'll make a huge difference," she assured Aster.

Aster nodded, peering at herself in the mirror. She hadn't seen herself looking like this in...a long time. Perhaps ever. Her hair was damp but sleek and shiny, her skin soft and gently glowing and clean. Aster turned her head this way and that, admiring herself for a moment before glancing at Gracie. "Thank you," she said, sincerely, and Gracie beamed.

"Do you want to go back to the pool, actually get some use out of it? We offer massages too, or if you want to get your nails done..." Gracie raised her eyebrows, but Aster shook her head.

"No, thank you. I should actually probably get going," Aster said, standing from the chair.

"Of course, that's no problem. Do you have any clean clothes to change into?" Gracie asked, as she motioned for Aster to follow her to the door. When Aster shook her head, Gracie frowned.

"Well, in the future...we do also offer a shopping service. You should really consider it! I'd love to help you pick out some clothes, I can already see all the warm colours that would suit you," Gracie sighed almost wistfully.

Aster glanced down at herself self-consciously as she thought about the simple clothes she usually stuck to, and the ratty, dirty clothes she would have to get back into. "I'll think about it," she said, after a moment.

Pleased with that response, Gracie nodded, then lead Aster out of the room and back towards the front. She was given her clothes to change back into, and Gracie took her robe before motioning her towards the front desk. "Luccia will let you know what you owe us. It was nice talking with you! I hope you enjoyed yourself, and please do come back soon to see about that shopping." She winked at Aster, waving at her, and Aster waved back as she approached the front desk.

The Eypharian woman was there, and smiled at her. "That will be...eight silver mizas or equivalent for the bathing, and two silver mizas or equivalent for your hair, so one golden miza or equivalent total, please." Aster blinked at her. One miza? For all the pampering she'd just had? Aster had been expecting a much steeper cost.

Fishing around inside the coin purse that had been returned to her along with her clothes, Aster dropped a single golden miza into the woman's hand, and she smiled brightly. "Perfect, thank you! We hope to see you again soon." Aster nodded and left the spa, blinking as she stepped outside into the sunlight again. She felt clean and relaxed, despite the fact that she was still wearing her ragged, dirty clothes.

She did need to go clothes shopping...and pick up some supplies, as well. Should she take up Gracie on the offer? What exactly would having someone help her shop do? She supposed Gracie knew a lot more about...colours, as the woman had mentioned, and probably specific styles. But Aster had never really cared about that. Then again, she'd never cared about being pampered before either, but she felt infinitely better after leaving the spa.

It was something to consider. For the day, she was done with self-pampering. Well...mostly done. A flower cart caught her eye as Aster made her way back through the streets of the Outpost; the vendor, as soon as he caught her eye, grinned, calling out to her. "A lovely flower for a lovely woman! Come, come! I have just the thing for you!"

Aster hesitated, then approached after a moment, and watched as the man pulled out a single sunflower with a flourish. Something about it reminded her of Imogen, so Aster pulled out her coin purse and paid the man for the flower, thanking him before she made her way back to the inn, twirling the sunflower in her fingers.

Ledger :
-1 GM for spa day
-1 GM for sunflower
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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)


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