Flashback Flutter and Frill

How Shiress met Caspian.

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

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Flutter and Frill

Postby Caspian on April 7th, 2020, 12:53 am

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40 Spring 509


“Then turn blue.”

There’s only a split second afforded to Caspian to throw the greasy-haired brute called Thargan a look of incredulity. A sharp retort’s on the tip of his tongue when the backhand comes, the strike sending him hurtling back towards the same wall where he’d been thrown just moments prior.

“That’s not how it works,” he hisses, flinching and throwing up his arms when Thargan rounds on him again.

“Ain’t you said y’was a Vantha?” Thargan demands, words slurring and liquor-laced - though Caspian doubts he’s any more articulate even at his soberest hours.

What those hours might be, he’s yet to witness.

“I said I’m half,” Caspian replies.

“So turn jus’ a half a yers blue. Lef’ half, right half - don’t matter a petch to me. Just go blue.”

Stumbling slightly, Thargan gives him space, if only to retrieve a rapidly emptying bottle of rum from the rickety table. With his back turned, Caspian eyes the only window in the room. Though he might be able to outfox the brooding lout to the door, he’s not certain how many of the slavers might be idling about the rundown shanty they’ve taken up as their makeshift headquarters and dilapidated domicile - not sure either how many in the slavers’ company there are to begin with. They’d dragged him up a flight of stairs when they brought him here a week prior, but he’d been blindfolded and only half-conscious, and there’s no telling how many other rooms might be on this floor. A sorry escape attempt it would be if he made it out to the hallway, only to be met by several Thargan’s lying in wait - and even if he made it all the way down the landing and onto the first floor, it’s even more likely, if they have any sense, that there’s at least another one of them left to guard the building’s entrance.

But the window -

Thargan’s cursing and fumbling with the bottle, his blundering only mangling the stopper.

The paint on the window ledge was green once, sage or even a cheery mint, before the damp had gotten to it through the building’s shoddy infrastructure. The wallpaper’s long been torn off but shreds of it remain, splinters of many-plumed blooms and arching vines in warming hues. Maybe this was someone’s bedroom, sometime long ago, and instead of the blaring rays he can’t shield himself from, that startle him from the exhausted slump he’s crumpled into every night since he’d been taken, the light had dappled to gently rouse through curtains made of lace. Every home in Sunberth bears tales of this ilk, the cobbled remnants of what might have been a former life or a rounded dozen - so volatile is ownership in this ramshackle city, property changing hands frequently and often by bloody means. Even in his room back home -

The designation is a startling one, in its newness, its stark contrast to his explicit objections to date to the contrary - but above all how easily he had given in to it. It’s been four years since being ripped from Avanthal - is four years all it takes?

Though Thargan is plenty a fool, and judging by the reeking stains down the front of his poorly patched tunic, none the wiser for the keg’s worth of beer he’s already burned through, he’ll undoubtedly undo the stopper one way or another, and these long moments where Caspian’s holding his breath so hard his heart’s pounding in his ears will pass - and so will what might be the likeliest opportunity for escape he’ll ever get.

Door or window, then?

His eyes dart wildly between both.

Window - it’ll have to be the window, and for the past three days someone’s left a cart directly beneath it loaded with crates and staling hay, and there’s no way around this but cart or not, it’ll be a sheer drop - an experience, he tells himself, that will be over in a second, and is far better than taking his chances by walking directly into the heart of the slavers’ den.

He makes a mad dash to his left, just as Thargan’s finally found his way into the bottle. But even by the first of his footfalls does he feel, deep down, that this wasn’t enough- Thargan isn’t quite drunk enough, was never that incompetent enough from the start - and he himself was never fast enough, and he’s been battered and near-starved for a week leading up to this, maybe even longer if he’s really lost all sense of time.

It doesn’t take much for Thargan to close in. The room’s not that big to begin with, and Thargan and the table had already taken up most of it. But Caspian’s got his fingers lodged beneath the sill, yanking the window upwards through the resistance of warped wood and cracked paint. Against his fingertips the cool night air whistles - and he heaves higher, enough for a zephyr to burst in, curl against his wrists and up his sleeves, muss his hair and alleviate, for a split second that lingers, the feverish flush that’s plagued him since yesterday afternoon -

For a moment, he’s flying - and with the air whipping about him, he can almost imagine he’d made it out onto the streets below.

But he slams instead onto the creaking, grime-streaked floorboards, the world falling to a dark deeper than night.


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Flutter and Frill

Postby Shiress on May 3rd, 2020, 2:52 am

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"He's gorgeous, Shi!"

Shiress glanced at the fiery redhead kneeling beside her, smiling. "You've said that like twenty times, Eve. I think you may be smitten." Eve's attention fell back to the green beans piled in her lap, and Shiress followed suit, snapping the ends off a bean, before snapping it once again and tossing it into a large wooden bowl. "Little good it'll do me." Eve sounded dejected, her slender shoulders slumping forward.

Shiress studied the girl for a brief tick but said nothing. Eve was a petite girl. Her bright red hair and green eyes hinted at Inarta roots, though the teen spoke openly of the fact she had no idea of who her parents were or where they had come from. Shiress figured the girl was born into slavery and sold when she came of age. Over the four winters of Shiress's enslavement, she had come to know trade within slave families was a common occurrence. She couldn't imagine having a child with the knowledge that that child would eventually be sold and never seen again.

"How long has he been here?" Shiress asked, her attention falling back to the beans in her lap.

"Eight days." Eve replied without hesitation. The girl was genuinely enamored of the stranger if the dreamy look that fell across her features had anything to do with it.

"Why hasn't he been put in the fields yet?" Shiress asked, breaking through the girl's fantasy but only got a noncommital shrug for a reply.

A companionable silence fell between the two slaves, the only sound between them the snapping of beans, and soft clang of them hitting the bowl, though Shiress knew it wouldn't last long. Sure enough, only several chimes passed before Eve let out a long, wistful sigh.

"That wavey hair and those chocolate brown eyes are to die for." Eve whispered, eyes going vacant as her gaze drifted out past the porch. "He truly is..."

"Don't say it!" Shiress laughed.

"Well he is..."

The large house was quiet that evening. It had been for the better part of a fortnight, with Master Jordan being gone. One would think slaves could breathe a sigh of relief in the absence of a slave master. The truth, however, was that the guards were left without authority and claimed free reign over them. The only upside is that they never left bruises or other outwardly noticeable marks, fearing the returning master's ire.

Strong drink permeated through the guards soon after supper, and shiress endeavored to make herself scarce of their attentions. It worked...for the most part. Failing to fetch more rum from the cellar quick enough to appease a drunken guard earned the slave a strong backhand across the head. Shiress had lost several chimes afterward and now sat on the kitchen floor, gently tapping a wet cloth to her sore and split lip.

This is where a very concerned looking Eve found her, though the concern wasn't directed at the battered and bleeding friend that she fell to her knees beside.

"There's something wrong with him, Shi! I saw him, and he was bleeding and he...."

Shiress placed a silencing hand on Eve's forearm, glancing warily toward the kitchen door. Placing a finger over her lips, Shiress lifted to her feet, albeit a bit wobbly, and motioned her friend to follow her through the back door, leading her outside and several paces out into the night.

Eve, in a desperate flailing of limbs, told how she had brought plates of food upstairs to the overly drunken newcomers and, in passing, noticed that Caspian's -apparently the name of the young man Eve had dubbed 'gorgeous'- bedroom door was standing ajar. After slipping partway into the room, Eve explained that she had seen the young man lying haphazardly, across a bed, blood pooling on the blanket by his temple. When she attempted to shake Caspian awake, her fingers were all but seared with the heat against her fingertips.

Eve had gone quiet, her thin arms encircling her waist. Shiress was silent herself, though her mind was racing with thoughts of the stranger, sick and injured, upstairs, his need drawing her to do something. But what?

"Are his guards still eating?" Shiress asked. Eve nodded. "And he was alone?" Again, the redhead nodded. Shiress gnawed her bottom lip, wincing as her teeth grazed the split area, an idea forming in her thoughts. "Find Vin and have him bring Caspian to my room"

By "room," Shiress meant the small tomb within which she slept. A narrow hole in the wall really, with a smattering of seasons old hay and a pile of blankets thrown across a room the size of an outhouse with one, barred window, open to the elements. Shiress reached out, taking Eve by the arm, waiting until her gaze lifted to meet hers.

"You'll have to distract his guards, Eve, so Vin can get to him and leave unseen." Eve's gaze lingered on Shiress's for a long chime, knowing what her words meant. After a time, Eve nodded. "I know." she whispered, then turned and disappeared back into the house. Shiress followed, gathering what items she thought she may need from the kitchen, snatching a handful of candles from a cupboard, a bowl, spoon, and a water skin before securing herself inside the small space of her room.

By the time Shiress heard a noise outside the thin blanket that separated her room from the room beyond, it was well and truly dark. Vin pulled the blanket aside, pushing a motionless form into her space. Although she yearned to know precisely how Vin and Eve pulled off Caspian's theft and Eve's whereabouts, Shiress knew to ask Vin was fruitless. Vin was mute, and even if he wanted to share his exploits, he couldn't.

"Vin, can you fetch me a bucket of water?" Shiress asked the big man who nodded and turned away, leaving Shiress to situate Caspian into the blankets.

Okay, Shiress had to admit that, after a cursory glance over his features, Caspian was, indeed, gorgeous. With his brown wavy locks, dark skin, and thick black lashes resting against fever reddened cheeks, she could see the reason for Eve's infatuation. But, all the charming looks aside, the young man was very obviously sick, his body trembling beneath her hands.

After lighting several candles, Shiress made quick work undressing the fevered man, assessing the exposed lean body before her. Bruises and contusions littered the man's flesh from feet to hands, and everywhere in between, but none looked too serious. After rolling the unconscious Caspian toward her and seeing his back, her heart plummeted. Bright red whip marks Crisscrossed the length of his back, some still raised and oozing blood. Those would need cleaning and salve. Returning him to his back, her focus turned to his head and the inch-long laceration that trailed along his hairline, just above his ear.

The blanket pulled back, interrupting her perusal of the injury, and Vin slid a bucket topped off with water through the opening. Without a word, the shield fell back into place, and Shiress and Caspian were left alone. The slave couldn't help but wonder how long it would be before the man's guards would miss him. Would they suspect that he had escaped, or would they have shrewdness through alcohol muddled thought to have noticed that Caspian would have been too ill to move by himself? Now that Shiress's plan had come to fruition, with the male slave now secreted away, she feared her actions had just crucified the man's future. What would they do to him if they found him? What would they do to her?

Shiress pushed those thoughts away, hoping that maybe one of the Gods would smile down on her and keep her and her charge safe. Not likely.

A soft groan from Caspian called her attention back, and she stroked a soothing hand gently across his brow. Eve had been right about the fever, the poor man was burning up, and Shiress wondered if it was the fever or head wound that solidified his unconscious state. Probably a combination of both.

Shiress made quick work of cleaning the gash on his head, covered it with fresh honey, and just began disrobing her patient when Eve broke through the blanket, her face flush, and eyes redrimmed. It didn't take much imagination to figure out how her friend had distracted Caspian's guards. Shiress knew there was no comfort she could give the teen, so she squeezed her shoulder, giving her a sad smile as she moved past her. Eve immediately began helping in any way she could, a way to forget her earlier unfortunate adventures, Shiress knew.

Within a bell, Caspian was undressed and bathed with cool water. An attempt to combat the man's raging temperature. Shiress was able to slip several spoonfuls of water through his dry, chapped lips as Eve cradled his head in her lap. The attempt to get him to swallow a basil paste for his fever proved more difficult. The young man had become combative, jerking away from helping hands and venturing to punch and scratch, though, his attempts were weak at best.

Shiress had learned quickly that a gentle touch and soothing whispers worked well with calming him down. And now, just a few hours from Syna's appearance, she lay beside him, one arm draped protectively across his chest, the other rubbing small circles in his soft, brown curls. Her lips pressed close to his ear, her voice soft as she sang and hummed. Eve lay curled up against him, filling the small area with the sound of her soft, even breathing.

"It's okay, Caspian."

"You're okay."

You're safe, Cassy"


Over and over Shiress's gentle voice soothed her sick charge until she too fell asleep just as Syna's rays stretched across the horizon.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Flutter and Frill

Postby Caspian on May 12th, 2020, 2:01 am

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The words that reach Caspian through the folds of his fever are odd and garbling. Everything’s just in the wrong order - the inflections, the tuning of the vowels, the syllabic snaps. Slowly, fretfully, they peel themselves in jagged shapes, snag in the tangles of his soot-blackened hair, cling to the creases of rubble-roughed palms. In the end all that remains is -

Common.

A woman he doesn’t know has been cradling his head in her lap, crooning softly in the most unifying linguistic order. He just hadn’t recognized it because -

A scratchy sob wells up from his depths. He stops it before it can fully form, catches it in his throat at the expense of a choke. For a moment - and maybe it’s the woman’s hair, the dark tresses brushing like willow whips across his eyes that had reminded him of his mother’s scarves, how they gauzed him as she leaned over to tuck wools under his chin against the cold. He had expected Shiber, then - remembered how much harder it was becoming to remember it in the first place and wondered if it wasn’t Vani.

All of it had translated incorrectly, slotted themselves through the wrong filters in his mind and had been sieved. It’s searing work but they pick themselves up, collect and retool until he realizes, with a startlingly fearful clarity, that what she had been saying was his name.

And how did she know that?

She leaves him for a moment. Returns holding something. Through eyes cracked to the barest of degrees he can see it’s a rag of some sort, soaked in something he can’t name.

She reaches for him.

He snags.

She might not have been expecting it, with his current state and his lying in a motionless, ragged heap. But as if all of the force of will he had managed to claw back from death’s clutches had answered summons in simultaneity, he whips out, blindingly quick, to grab her by the wrist.

“What -?” he asks hoarsely, breaks off immediately. All of his resurrected strength had been spent just on the act of catching her by surprise.

He’s not sure why it’s this important to him, but he pushes through.

“What is that?” he asks, shoving her hand away that bears the rag.

There’s a thin but palpable sheen of something across his brow, his temples, plastered down his neck and elsewhere besides. Distantly he recognizes that whatever is coating his skin isn’t the gore and grime that had come consequently of his being taken here. And he hadn’t found any of it appealing but it had been known; it had been his - and she, with her rag and her grip and hair that is decidedly not his mother’s fine-toothed pashmina and silks had just taken it all away.

And slapped something across him, ointment and tincture and for all he knows, toxins, and in surplus.

No matter her response to his introductory provocation, he drags himself up to a sitting position, hissing and cursing and regretting it but not giving in when his body sears with pain.

All it had taken was a few blinks to dispel the dream that had lingered. Now, with sinking heart but raising hackles, he’s become quite sure that he never made it to the window; that though his immediate surroundings may be different than the ones involving Thargan, they must certainly be in the same vicinity; and that, still -

No one from Taaldros’ house had come to get him.

“Who’re you?” he asks sharply, though his throat burns and his limbs wobble. “And how long’s it been?”
Last edited by Caspian on July 8th, 2020, 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Flutter and Frill

Postby Shiress on July 8th, 2020, 7:40 pm

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"A friend." Shiress said, seeing as Eve was, apparently, too enamored of their ill stranger to speak up.

Placing a hand against Caspian's fevered cheek, Shiress gently shifted his head, so he was looking at her and smiled softly. "You are safe. No one is looking for you here, in my..." the slave glanced around the tiny space, then gave a minute shrug of a shoulder, "..sleeping quarters. You've been here, not even twenty-four bells."

Shiress nodded in the direction of the other female slave, hovering close to Caspian's shoulder, slightly out of sight. "That's Eve, and she found you, saw that you were sick, and brought you to me to care for."

Reaching for a small cup, Shiress dipped it into a water bucket then brought it to the man's lips. "Water" she explained "drink as much as you can, slowly."

Shiress helped tip the mug against chapped lips and watched as Caspian drank, waited for any coughing or choking fits to ease before offering more. Once satisfied, Caspian had had his fill, Shiress urged him back down onto the pallet, pulling the blanket up to his chest.

Turning her attention to Eve, she said "Can you go and fetch some broth and juice for him?"

Eve nodded and slid through the curtained doorway, and Shiress turned her attention back to Caspian. "Just after dawn this morning, a friend reported that your.." Shiress paused, searching for the proper term, failed, and went with, "company was searching for you in the trees and the city proper."

As Shiress spoke, she submerged a cloth into the water and ran it gently across Caspian's forehead, smoothing back dark curls from his face. Smirking slyly, she added, "I may have facilitated a rumor of a group of slaves spying a stumbling, swaying figure, markedly matching your description, headed for the hills."

Gliding the cloth down the man's neck to his chest, Shiress's musings turned serious. "Can you tell me what happened? Were you injured, or did you become ill? Anything you can tell me would help me care for you." Just then, Eve returned, bowl in one hand, a tall mug of apple juice in the other, guiding herself through the curtain carefully.

DIscarding the rag, Shiress smoothed a hand across Caspina's forehead, letting her thumb caress the darkened skin just below a green-colored eye, much like her own. "Would you try eating a bit and maybe tell me about yourself?"
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
Posts: 759
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