Solo A Life's Purpose

Don't lose sight, don't be scared.

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A Life's Purpose

Postby Asterope on August 11th, 2020, 4:55 pm

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22nd of summer, 520 AV

It was the early hours of the morning, and Aster had found her way to the water gardens for some quiet time. Cressida was wrapped around her neck, dozing gently; occasionally, her small wings gave a flutter, the white feathers tickling the back of Aster's neck.

She sat on one of the benches in the garden, absentmindedly running one finger up and down the top of Cressida's scaly head, watching the glimmering light of Syna reflect gently off of the still pools of water. It was quiet at this hour; there were only one or two other people roaming about. The still, silent air was scented heavily yet not unpleasantly with the surrounding flowers and trees. It was peaceful.

It was still a surreal feeling to Aster, after so long in Sunberth. One of the people around, a woman with white hair, smiled as she passed by; Aster could see the faint gleam of scales along her neck and forehead. A Konti, then. Aster smiled back politely, and watched curiously as the woman rolled up her sleeves and knelt by the edge of the water, leaning forward to plunge her arms into the pool.

She began to pull at some of the plants growing from the water, and as Aster watched, she wrenched a rather long plant out; it had a brown stem, with a rather pretty pink-purple bud that reminded her of lilac in its shape. "What are you doing?" Aster couldn't help but ask, and the woman glanced over at her.

"Weeding," She said, with another smile. "My name is Niama. I care for the water gardens." Aster nodded, and politely introduced herself in return.

"My name is Asterope. Those are weeds?" The plants didn't look like weeds; they were lovely. Niama laughed as she wrenched another one free from the pond, her laughter fading into a grunt of effort.

"Water knotweed," Niama explained. "They're quite pretty, and I've heard it has its uses in medicine, but you need to be harsh with them. If you leave them unchecked, they'll very quickly overtake your whole pond. It would wreak havoc on the other plants and animals, not to mention ruin the view. Sometimes I wonder," she paused and let out another grunt as she struggled with a particularly long stem, "If it's worth it to let any grow," Niama finished, with a huff and a splash as the weed finally came free, mud clumped in its roots.

"Do you...need help?" Aster offered, after a moment, and the Konti glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. She took a moment to actually take Aster in, eyes scanning the Ethaefal up and down, lips pursed in thought.

"You don't mind getting wet?" Niama asked in return, and Aster shook her head.

"Alright. I wouldn't mind a bit of company and an extra pair of hands, in that case. Be careful, they're stubborn ones. Make sure you're steady when you try to yank them up, because if you're not, you'll end up on your ass. It's happened more than once to me," the Konti admitted, without shame.

"I'll be careful," Aster said, amused. Carefully, she unwound Cressida from her neck and set the little winged snake down where she had been sitting as she stood. Cressida let out a small hiss of displeasure at having her rest disturbed, flapping her wings indignantly, but curled up into a ball and settled down.

Moving to join Niama, Aster knelt beside the Konti. The shirt she wore had short sleeves already, so she didn't need to worry about rolling them up. Taking a moment, she picked up one of the weeds Niama had already pulled to examine it. It was surprisingly long up close, at least four or five feet. The leaves dripped onto the stone and her hands, the stem still damp. "You said these have medicinal properties?" Aster questioned, as she set the plant aside and leaned in over the pond; there was a small cluster of them not far from where she was kneeling.

"Supposedly, but I have no idea what," Niama shrugged. Aster wondered if she should hold onto a few of the plants as she plunged her hands into the pleasantly warm water, scaring a few fish away, their scales shimmering in the morning sun. Grasping the stem as low down as she could, Aster dug her toes into the ground and yanked. The weed didn't budge. She yanked again, putting all of her body weight behind it; she could feel the stem loosening. Another yank pulled the roots free from the mud, and sent her flying onto her behind with an 'oof' and a soft thump, clutching the long-stemmed weed with wide eyes.

Niama laughed, then clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound, but Aster could see the mirth in her eyes and the shake in her shoulders. A moment later, the Eth tipped her head back and joined in the laughter at the absurdity of the situation, surprising even herself. It felt good to laugh so freely, over something so mundane and silly.

"I told you to be careful," Niama said, after she had collected herself, though a smile was still on her face. Aster sat up, brushing herself off.

"You did," Aster agreed, with amusement. Her butt was sore; no doubt the smack against the stone floor would leave a mild bruise. But it was worth it for the bubbling joy in her chest and the fading but genuine smile on her mouth. Setting the weed aside, Aster knelt by the edge of the pond again, decidedly more careful with the next weed she pulled up.
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Asterope
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A Life's Purpose

Postby Asterope on August 11th, 2020, 5:00 pm

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She and Niama worked side by side for a little bit, occasionally chatting, until finally the Konti sat back on her heels and surveyed their work. "That should do it for now," she declared. "Thank you for your help."

"Thank you for letting me help," Aster replied, a soft smile on her face, and Niama blinked but smiled back. "Is it okay if I keep a few of these?"

"What, really?" Niama seemed surprised.

"I work as an herbalist." Used to, her mind corrected her, sending an uncomfortable pain through her chest. "I'd be curious to find out what they actually do."

"By all means, then. I was just going to get rid of them," Niama said, and so Aster gathered up three of the shorter weeds, thanking Niama again as the Konti collected the rest of them. The two stood up, and Niama shook Aster's hand before bidding her farewell, paying no mind to the small, curled-up snake, not noticing the two tucked in wings in the shade that Cressida rested in.

Aster set the stems aside, propping them against the bench to dry, and sat down again, scooping Cressida into her lap. Her clothes were spattered with water drops, her hands and arms still damp, and her butt was still a bit sore from her decidedly not graceful fall, but she felt even more at peace than when she'd first arrived.

"What do you think, Cressida," Aster spoke to the snake on her lap, who was not happy to have her rest disturbed, but seemed to accept it now that she had a warm, comfortable lap beneath her and was in a better position to bask in the morning sunlight. "Do you think maybe I should work here? Niama seems nice, and I mean, gardening is enjoyable. And simple."

The voice that spoke suddenly from beside her nearly sent her flying off the bench in surprised panic; instead, Aster whipped her head around so quickly she was surprised it didn't snap. "I don't think you should," a woman said, and there she was, a beautiful woman with dark hair and dark eyes sitting beside her. She hadn't been there a moment ago; Aster hadn't seen or heard her approach. And something about her felt...different. Powerful.

"I'm...sorry?" Aster asked, stunned. The woman smiled at her ever so slightly, her eyes gleaming with knowledge and kindness and something beyond what Aster had ever seen in a mortal's eyes, beyond even the gaze of her own kind.

"I said I don't think you should. Work here, at the garden. I was wondering where you had gone off to," the woman spoke now to the snake in her lap, and Cressida flicked her tongue out. As Aster watched, two other snakes poked their heads out of the woman's long sleeves, slipping out to twine around her arms, and as she stared in amazement, Asterope realized that both of the snakes also had wings.

"Who are you?" She whispered, with wide eyes.

"You don't know?" There wasn't genuine surprise in the woman's voice, more of a gentle amusement. "My name is Rak'keli, daughter of Syna."

OOC :
Cashing in the divine appearance coupon earned from the placeholder challenge to interact with Rak'keli!
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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: 632
Words: 639035
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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A Life's Purpose

Postby Asterope on February 9th, 2021, 10:50 pm

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Her first reaction was disbelief. What would a goddess be doing here, sitting beside her on a park bench and striking up casual conversation about what she should do for a living? The whole situation was so absurd that she thought for a brief, wild moment that she must be dreaming, but it felt far too real to be a dream. The casual aura of power that radiated from the other woman was undeniable. As ridiculous and unbelievable as it seemed, Aster felt deep within her bones that the woman was telling the truth, and that she was indeed Rak'keli, the goddess of healing.

Rak'keli was stroking long, deft fingers along the spines of her snakes, watching her with soft yet intense eyes that Aster couldn't meet for more than a few seconds. She felt a bit dizzy, actually. What was one supposed to do in the presence of a goddess? "What are you doing here?" Aster asked quietly, blurting the question out without thought, peering at the goddess through her lashes nervously.

"What are you doing here?" Rak'keli countered swiftly, arching one perfect dark brow, and Aster curved her shoulders in on herself at the chiding tone. "You have a gift, do you not?"

That puzzled her, and Rak'keli clicked her tongue softly. "Don't play coy with me. You know medicine. You know herbs. You can help people, but you're not. Why?"

That left Aster at a loss, and she looked down at her hands in her lap, flexing her fingers. Why hadn't she found somewhere to work yet? She knew the Outpost had a medical facility; even if she just worked as a nurse or an assistant, she would be helping people, healing them. Beside her, the unwavering presence of Rak'keli waited for an answer.

"I'm scared," Aster finally admitted, and shame coloured her voice as she balled her hands into fists, winding her arms around herself. But Rak'keli was ruthless.

"Why? What are you scared of?"

"I...I don't know myself anymore. Or the world. Things are so much more messy, and complicated, and cruel than I thought." Aster was staring at the ground, and she didn't realize she was crying until she saw a water drop fall and a wet spot bloom on the stone beneath her. "I'm not good enough. I've seen people die, people I could have helped, but I didn't, I didn't know how and I wasn't good enough." Her voice rose, in anger and frustration more at herself than anything else.

"That's a bit cowardly of you, don't you think?" It wasn't said cruelly, but plainly, and Aster blinked back her tears, raising her head to meet Rak'keli's gaze as much as she dared. She could feel the disapproval, but something gentler underneath it too. Aster didn't say anything.

Rak'keli continued. "Not all wounds or illnesses are curable, sometimes even for me. I fight Dira as best as I can, but sometimes she wins. It's painful, and it's sad, but it is quite simply life. You do your best, and sometimes people will die, and you must mourn them and then do better next time. If every doctor, healer, herbalist quit when they were incapable of healing someone, there would be no such people in the world."

Aster stayed quiet, listening to the goddess, whose tone gentled slightly. "You have been through a lot, Asterope. But you cannot quit when you face a struggle. You have the capability to help save lives; that you failed to do so before due to lack of equipment or knowledge should not stop you from trying again whenever and wherever you can. It would be cowardly, and selfish, and cruel of you to do so. So no, I don't think that you should work as a gardener. I think that you should face your fears, and move past them, and continue to help heal people. Is that not what you want to do?"

Aster wiped the tears from her face, and nodded. "I do," her voice came out hoarse, and she cleared her throat, speaking more clearly and confidently even as her voice wavered slightly. "I want to help people." That seemed to be the right answer; Rak'keli smiled at her, brief but seemingly genuine, and it was like she glowed for a moment, almost becoming too radiant for Aster to look at.

"Good. You have one of my rakanivas to help you as well; I doubt she would have stayed with you had you not been worthy. You best take good care of her; I'm sure you will find her unique capabilities useful." It took Aster a moment to realize that Rak'keli meant Cressida. A strange coincidence? A twist of fate? Done on purpose by Rak'keli? It was impossible to say, but Aster nodded, stroking a finger down Cressida's spine.
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Asterope
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A Life's Purpose

Postby Asterope on February 9th, 2021, 10:52 pm

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"Now, I have something of a task for you. In Sunberth, there is a man who calls himself a doctor." The cold, hard rage that entered Rak'keli's voice almost knocked the wind out of Aster, and she was very, very glad that tone of voice had not been directed at her. "Doctor Petricious, as he calls himself, but he is no doctor. He defiles the name of medicine, and hurts and tortures and kills for his own pleasure. I want you," Rak'keli leveled her gaze with Aster, pinning her beneath her stare. "To stop him."

"Stop him?" Aster repeated, stunned. How was she supposed to do that? She vaguely recalled hearing Alard speak with disgust of Sunberth's 'doctor', but this was the first time she was hearing about him in any detail. And he sounded deranged and dangerous, to say the least.

"Indeed. Stop him. Whatever it takes; I won't have him continue to destroy the reputation of doctors and healers, and I certainly will not have him continue to torture and kill the innocent for his so-called medical practice. Do what you must."

Aster's thoughts immediately jumped to a dark place, and as if Rak'keli could read her mind, she reached out and touched Aster's cheek for the briefest of moments; her skin tingled warmly where the goddess brushed her fingertip over her face. "As healers, it is our duty to know when to heal and when to harm. We avoid it as much as we can, and we do not do it unless it is necessary and we have no other choice; unless it will keep ourselves and those around us safe and keep harm from others.

"Sometimes, we have to make that choice, and we must be able to when it arises. If taking one life will save dozens, perhaps hundreds, is it worth it?" The question lingered in the air.

"That is a question you will have to think about, and a choice that you will have to make. But know that if your intentions are good and your actions save more from harm, then you have made the correct choice, no matter what it took." The goddess' words were quiet but heavy, with a serious weight to them.

Aster could only nod. "Good. I trust you to do what you must, then, and to make the choice you feel is right. Try not to fail me, Asterope; not just for me, but for the good of the innocents that might otherwise suffer."

Well, that certainly wasn't a lot of pressure. Before Aster could say anything else, she blinked, and Rak'keli was gone. Cressida yawned, coiling up tight again and putting her head back down on Aster's lap. The air suddenly seemed lighter, less dense without the presence of divinity and power, and Aster inhaled deeply, not even realizing she'd been breathing so shallowly. The trickle of sound that she hadn't realized had disappeared returned as well, doves chirping and the quiet murmurs of people chatting and walking.

She felt dazed, as if she'd been in some sort of trance or dream. She certainly had a lot to think about, that was certain. Aster exhaled a long, slow breath, dropping her head back and peering up at the blue, cloudless morning sky.

She had been told, quite bluntly no less, by a goddess that she needed to return to her work. And then given a task, no less; and not an easy one. "Well then," she said, turning her gaze back to Cressida. "I guess we have some things to think about, don't we?"
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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: 632
Words: 639035
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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