Flashback The Sticking Point

Sparring in the yard.

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

The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on July 7th, 2021, 10:19 pm

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80 Summer 505

The knife clatters loudly onto the dusty stones before him.

Falls among other forgotten things -

Crude steel, chicken bones. A scrap of greasy paper from the fish and chip shop, blown in through their craggly yard on a summer wind reeking of slop.

Numbly, dumbly, Kas looks from the battered blade and garbage, up at the grown woman they say is his blood sister.

“Pick it up,” she says when he doesn’t move. In her hands is a blade of her own. And though instinct and common sense might naturally guide him to arm himself, put them on equal footing - he knows with her there is no such thing, no fighting chance. It’s been nearly two seasons since being forced to come to Sunberth - enough time to have learned picking up the knife means engaging, signifies agreeing to the terms of the tilted game she so often plays.

“Well?” she says when still he remains rooted to the spot, arms wrapped around his sides. “Surely you’ve at least gutted a fish in your time? Or are the Vantha churning out cowards these days?”

He senses movement on the stoop behind him. A flash of emerald and amber. How long has Gavir been watching?

To him it seems that he only looks away for a moment; that he doesn’t even look away at all, so vividly do Gavir’s long Vantha locks glow that he can see them in his peripherals. But that moment is enough, and Taalviel snarls and lunges.

The scream he lets out sounds as if he’s been hit. But he isn’t, no scratches on him save for where he stumbles backwards and scrapes his ass on gravel and weeds.

“Do it,” she says, diving towards him again. “Pick it up!”

The last two seasons - they're not enough time for him to forget home, not nearly enough for him to see through his panic and realize she’s not actually going to touch him. More than a Raven, she bombs and snaps at him like a hawk, like a raptor, like something that should have a thousand teeth and too many eyes and all he can think to do is shout as if he’s already bleeding and crawl as if he hasn’t got two feet to stand on.

“Pick.” She kicks out, spraying gravel across him. “It.” Another lightning quick sweep of her leg, sending hot sand searing across his eyes. “UP.”

On the stoop are glints of ruby, swirls of gold. Implacable and looming, Gavir, though just as far from Avanthal, brings the cold here with him. Not for the first time Caspian turns to him. Because all of this is so far from okay, from right, and he doesn’t know what he’s looking for, because no one is going to come to his rescue. No one will intervene. But it would make a difference, he thinks in the depths of his wrung out heart, if he just had a witness – someone, even silently, who might look upon the same thing he is and just acknowledge how profoundly cracked up the whole thing is. How bewildering petched up it is that in this city, treating a child this way is normal.

He doesn’t get to look to Gavir long. Taalviel shoves between them like an eclipse. And then he’s frantically paddling backwards again, the swipes of her knife just inches from his nose. Through the tears he can’t seem to stop, that blur the yard and the unforgiving sun and Gavir's astral lamp eyes into one liquid stream, he finds the abandoned knife – or maybe the knife finds him.

Her knife sings through the air. And he sees it in his mind’s eye, what’ll happen if he doesn’t move, staked to the ground and left to wizen. With a cry he throws his own knife up –

Cries out again at the sudden collision of steel, his arm nearly going numb on impact.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on July 14th, 2021, 1:17 pm

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Finally,” Taalviel says. Foolishly, he thinks that’s the end of it; for some reason he vividly imagines this is all she wanted, and for the rest of the day she’ll leave him be. But lightning quick she strikes again, and the second bolt of lightning that travels from his wrist down to his elbow is a hundred times worse than the first.

He’s only twelve right now. And being only twelve, he’s under the vague impression that both instances of his having blocked her strikes are of his own doing. He has no idea she’d aimed there on purpose, wanted him to hear just how loudly steel can ring, wanted him to have a taste of what it’s really supposed to be like when you parry, the way he’s supposed to hold his wrist and how far away his elbow should be from his body. This is just a simulation, but he doesn’t figure that out for years, not until he’s 22, lying sleeplessly one night in Ravok in some stranger’s bed, and for no reason in particular – save for, maybe, this lesser Lark cousin’s overly ornate-handled blade propped against the dresser – all the thoughts and moments just like this one coalesce into a necessary revelation, overwhelming in its simplicity.

But even when he’s 22 and he pieces it together his own feelings on the matter are scattered and contradict one another and flying at him now is –

When the third strike comes, he drops his blade.

He doesn’t do it on purpose. He can’t say any of his actions, right now, are intentional, or come with any particularly informed train of thought. The dagger falls to the ground, just another part of the grand tapestry of Sunberth’s refuse. Again, not until 22 does he come to understand she isn’t trying to hurt him, only teach him, so when he doesn’t find himself stabbed at this moment, he doesn’t question the aberration, focuses instead on how painful it is that he’s skinned his knee.

Taalviel lets out a noise in exasperation and disgust. “Really?”

“I can’t feel my arm!” he exclaims. Holds it out to her so she can see how it trembles, how he can barely close his hand into a fist.

“The only arm you can’t feel is a severed one,” she replies. “Which is what’ll happen if you decide, like now, that you’re just going to lie down instead of defending yourself.”

Bewildered, he bursts into tears again. Looks pleadingly at Gavir, the only adult in the vicinity.

But Gavir only crosses his arms. The Vantha man is in his thirties. He once told Caspian he’s from Snowsong Hold too, but he must have come to Sunberth long before Caspian was born, or at any of the many years Caspian would have been too young to remember him. Does he know Kas’ father, Haalram? Gavir plays the fiddle too. Were they friends?

Even if they were, it means nothing now, for Gavir looks on impassively, long hair glinting like sapphires. “Thirty more minutes,” he says, his voice low and clipped. But there’s still something there, a sonorous edge, a lilt from the Hold in the north. “No less. Or you aren’t eating tonight.”

He retreats into the house, the wooden door shutting with the finality of a prison cell behind him.

Under Taalviel's coal-black eyes, Caspian shakily picks up the dagger again.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on July 29th, 2021, 1:11 pm

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“But I don’t understand what you want me to do,” Caspian exclaims. The dagger he holds askance, its tip pointed towards the ground. Does she actually want him to stab her? First, he knows very well that such a thing is extremely unlikely to happen, not unless she suddenly develops a strong and sincere case of epilepsy, by chance his dagger is instead pointed upwards, and she trips right onto it. Second – if he did manage to hurt her, he’s very sure Taaldros or any other member of the house would break his arm in kind.

Exasperatedly, she snatches at his dagger arm, grips him like a manacle around the wrist and roughly drags his hand upwards. “When I move,” she says with pointed deliberation, “you move too.” She mimes swinging, in slow motion, simultaneously raising his arm so that their daggers knock. Finally, she releases him, and he stumbles back.

“Ready?” she asks.

A stray cat watches them from atop the wall. It’s missing half its ear and its fur is patched in places, but it licks its paw as languidly as if it owns the place. It appears to care as much as Gavir for Caspian’s safety and well-being.

But by now, with the exercise laid out for him, he can’t pretend he doesn’t know what she’s looking for. What he still doesn’t know is why – no one here likes him, and at his age he can’t figure out why any of them would bother teaching him anything of value. As she swings, again, with the velocity excruciatingly dialed back a dozen notches, he shakily raises his arm up to meet her, blocking each strike. The sound makes him flinch; the cat, on the other hand, remains only vaguely interested and unfazed.

Gradually they speed up. They had started at an easy 30 beats per minute – that’s a second for her to windmill and swing, another second for their daggers to clash – and then they pass 60. Gaining on 75. Approaching 100.

Without realizing, he’s begun to backpedal. He isn’t sure where to look, at the increasingly swift flash of silver through the air, or the equally piercing glare of her eyes, and between both he feels that fear rise again in his throat. Before Sunberth, no one had made him do such a thing in his life. In Avanthal he hadn’t even been made to pick up a tool any more dangerous than a shovel, and even then it was only for fun, digging trenches and building snow castles with the other children in the Hold.

His arm’s growing tired. It’s been tired; had never stopped hurting, had been smarting ever since she’d grabbed him for the hands-on demonstration. Surely she knows this; evidently she doesn’t care.

“Look up,” she says, for his hand’s shaking and he’s unsteady on his feet and for whatever reason, he had looked down to the gravel beneath him. Another clash; another sting, another and another and another and if he asks her to stop, would she -?

The wind’s knocked out of him as his back hits the wall. There’s another flash of silver, for she hadn’t forgotten the time, had remained the metronome. But the collision had shocked him out of the rhythm, and the result is her dagger, hanging above him in the glare of the sun, and him cowering beneath it with his unarmed hand thrown up reflexively over his eyes.

They remain there for another long second.

The cat is gone.

“Well,” she says, pulling back. “At least you moved.”
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on August 3rd, 2021, 12:42 pm

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A minute stretches on so much longer when one isn’t willing.

Caspian knows exactly how long a minute is, precisely how it feels – the first thing you do when you hand a child a violin, or any instrument, for that matter, is have them play long tones, ideally to a metronome. Four beats on the down bow, four beats on the up, all at 60 beats per minute, so by the end of a minute you’ve repeated the exercise precisely 15 times. Given this, the length of a minute should not surprise or disappoint him; nor should thirty of them.

But thirty of anything with Taalviel in the yard, baking beneath the sun, turns instead into an interminably unbearable length of time.

After the thirty, he doesn’t get to quit. He had sort of been holding his breath for it, had latched on to Gavir’s threat of their withholding dinner from him and thought that was the finish line. But when Taalviel merely drags out the practice dummy next, slabs of wood and branches knotted into the vague shape of a person, his heart sinks. Glumly, he realizes he’s earned his dinner, but what Gavir had said had no bearing on when practice would actually end.

“Well?” she says. She’s taken a step back, jabs her dagger at the dummy like a professor gesturing at a blackboard. “Go on, then.”

The dagger in his own hand feels foreign and useless to him again, as if he’s forgotten what it might be used for.

“Are you tired already?” He doesn’t know what he thinks he’s going to gain from snarking, but it doesn’t stop him from trying.

“Tired of looking at your snot-nosed face.”

He wipes his nose on the back of his sleeve. Every inhale and exhale burns his nostrils, and he debates the futility of asking for water. Crying had dried him out and the summer sun isn’t helping.

When he doesn’t act as quickly as she deems he ought to, she begins to move – and in hasty anticipation he raises his dagger, and awkwardly chops towards the dummy.

The first strike barely makes a dent. His arm’s immediately sore again, the shock impacting him from his wrist back up to his already jammed elbow. The second – he can see the scratch in the wood, right across where the chest would be, if this were a person. It gleams lighter than the rest of the wood beneath the sunlight, a shining scar. A third strike, a fourth – and he doesn’t know if he’s doing this right, isn’t sure what the end objective is. Is he supposed to break the dummy?

Physically, is that even possible?

A dozen hits in and he becomes convinced the dummy isn’t made of wood at all, that Taalviel’s gone and wrapped solid steel in strips of balsa and this is all a grand ploy to again make him look like a fool.

Unconsciously he looks towards her, expecting – well, guidance, he supposes. Even her usual bout of acerbic criticism would be welcome.

But she only watches.

He strikes again at the dummy, over and over, trying to go faster, to see if speed is what might garner a response from her. But after all they’ve done today so far, he’s tired and sluggish, his arm burning where it rotates in its socket, his wrist aching from how tightly he’s gripping the handle.

No one’s put a time limit on this.

At least, when he was counting to thirty, despite how warped his sense of time became, he had something to hold on to.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on August 13th, 2021, 1:21 pm

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“Waste of good steel. Look, there’s a perfectly decent stake right here. Who thought it was a good idea to hand him a real stabber?”

Zhassel’s voice carries clear and cutting across the yard. The foolish, predictable thing would be to look her way, so he won’t – but he can’t help himself and does, and the lazy smirk on her face boils his blood.

But he notices, too, that Taalviel’s also stiffened at the arrival of their new audience. That’s one of the first things he’d noticed about her – that the house, this smash-and-grab collection of rogues who follow his stepfather Taaldros, aren’t an entirely united front. One would have thought there would be some solidarity between Kelvics, but Zhassel’s a Hound, the keening, savage kind, too bendy and constantly, unsettlingly smiling, and not in a way that meets her eyes. The only one who seems to like Zhassel is Taaldros – one would hope bondmates do – but even then, with how coldly the man carries himself, it seems he only just tolerates her tirelessly throwing herself into his orbit.

But it goes deeper than that. Goes personal, right into the marrow, for in both the dark and the daylight, the facts are what they are:

Caspian and Taaldros share a mother; that mother, a Kelvic Fox, had been Taaldros’ bondmate first, had left her only child Caspian behind in Avanthal and followed the man here for it. The years flew, and she grew old. And towards the end of her lifespan, Taaldros had shunted her to the side and taken up with another – fresh, springier, wildly vicious Zhassel. From what Caspian’s been able to piece together, Taaldros, at least, didn’t turn their mother out onto the street.

But in some ways the truth seems crueler – that they all lived side by side, Taalviel watching as Taaldros shamelessly disregarded their ailing mother, in favor of a woman who doubtlessly can tear throats out with her teeth, in either Kelvic or human form.

Zhassel’s their stepmother, if one must get technical about it. And further on the subject of technical, Caspian hasn’t asked outright, but evidence strongly suggests that said stepmother might be even younger than Taalviel.

“Well?” Zhassel calls from the porch, because she’s caught him looking. “Go on, then.”

He turns to Taalviel, who has her back to Zhassel, shutting her out. She’s had her arms crossed for the duration of this terrible exercise, but there’s a new tightness in her shoulders, and he can see the bones in her wrist flexing as she clenches on her dagger. Surely he’s earned his keep today; if anything, maybe he can bank on their shared hatred for Zhassel, and Taalviel will leave him be.

But it’s too soon, and he’s asking for too much.

“You heard her,” Taalviel says flatly.

Limbs burning, he hacks at the dummy again – then again and again. Chips of wood fly off the dummy, and if this were a real person, he might have succeeded in taking a real dent out of their forearm. The next strike splinters, some of it blowing back against his face, and he shakily wipes his face on his sleeve. But more difficult than the task at hand is Zhassel – and he tries and fails to ignore her hollering, and the thick lines of sweat reaching from his temples down to his toes.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on September 23rd, 2021, 12:52 pm

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He barely notices the plate of food on the table before him.

The table, though – it’s all he can see, chipped chestnut plank covered in gouges and stripped of half its varnish. It swims across his vision, floods it, and he finds himself aimlessly digging his fingers into the dents and cracks. It reminds him of the wooden dummy. But what had happened to damage the table this way? Simply so many years of slammed tankards, of fists pounded down for emphasis, of that game where you splay your palm out flat and nip between each finger with the tip of a knife or that time that bookie had given Taaldros a bad tip and the bookie had flown in wondrous arc across the room and crash-landed right on top of –

“Slop’s going cold.”

Startling, Caspian blinks wildly and looks up, the world zipping back into focus.

He’d been so dead tired from all the exercises in the yard that he hadn’t noticed that Taalviel had left the kitchen, and Zhassel slide into place.

Looking directly at her has always been unpleasant. She never stops moving – never stops hearing, can’t shut off sensing, from all the lanes and blocks and avenues. When she smiles he flinches, her curved, wicked teeth gleaming in the afternoon light.

“Are you going to eat that?” she goes on, too invested, too eager. “You should really eat that.”

“What do you care – “

She snaps, hand swiping across the table, flinging his cutlery to the floor. Pinned between the table and the wall at his back, he freezes in place, like a rabbit stuck in a trap.

To no relief of his, the wild look in her eyes shifts, and she settles back in her seat. Bursts into cruel laughter.

“So scared!” she exclaims, and she’s holding her sides, she’s laughing so hard, bent over and breathless. “The look on your face! Like you actually thought I was going to – Gods, you’re a funny one!”

Caspian slumps miserably, knowing, by now, that all he can do is wait it out, hope that she finds someone or something else to amuse her.

“Really, though, you ought to eat.” The pivots in her mood are sudden and alarming and he still can’t tell whether any of this is for show, or her mind truly makes that many leaps a minute. “Unless you don’t want it? Because if not, I can help you. Taalviel won’t like it if she comes back and your plate’s still full.”

Caspian remembers the Zypherians that pulled the sleds in Avanthal, the Kaleans some in the hold kept as pets. They were constantly roving, endlessly searching, incessantly following after everyone at mealtimes and pushing their snouts into the hands of anyone supping by the fires. Dogs are the same across the continent, it seems, Kelvics included, for Zhassel’s hovering about with her mouth slightly agape.

“You’re such a little mite,” she says, eyes trained not him, but his food. “The body can only make use of so much. And it’s gone cold, I think. You won’t like it. What’s that on the end there? Did she give you the rest of the butter? Here, I’ll even get you another fork, that one’s all dusty now. If you’re not going to eat it I don’t see why it should go to waste when I – “

“Zhassel.”

Both Zhassel and Caspian jump at the sight of Gavir. His eyes are ice white now, his hair the same but seeping aquamarine from tip to root, as if it’s been dipped in dye.

Zhassel huffs and scurries out of the kitchen. Gavir, still staring at him, says nothing – doesn’t have to. When the man leaves him, though he can barely raise his arms and his body feels like lead, he eats.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on October 4th, 2021, 12:48 pm

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They leave him alone for the rest of the day.

In any other circumstance he might have felt relief; he might have registered, in the first place, their absence and apathy. But he’s too tired to do anything more than numbly chew his food; can barely muster up enough energy to wash his dishes, his muscles protesting him all the way; trips on his way up the worn staircase to his room on the second floor.

But waiting for him in full portent on his pillow is a slim roll of rough-spun cloth – and in that cloth is the dagger they’d given him to use on the practice dummy. He knows that’s what it is without having to open it. They had spent all day together, him and that rusted slice of metal, and in his hand its heft is already growing familiar.

Of course there’s no instructions, not so much as a hastily scrawled note or even a demanded shouted up the stairs. For lack of anything better to do, he collapses beside it and shoves it clumsily under his pillow. It’s still light out when he falls asleep, and the sounds of the streets below fall on deadened ears.

In the middle of the night he becomes aware of two things – how terribly uncomfortable his pillow is, more so than usual. And that someone else is in his room with him.

Blinking blearily in confusion, he pieces together too slowly that the painful crick in his neck is because his threadbare pillow isn’t much of a barrier between him and the dagger. What might be either the hilt or the thick knot of rope tying the bundle together is jabbing right into an awkward bend in his vertebrae. But the larger problem in greater immediacy is the shadow lurking in the corner of his room. It looms low to the floor, out of range of the shaft of moonlight streaming through his curtains. And in his shuffling around trying to figure out what the petch is wrong with his neck, it now knows he’s awake too.

Though he can’t see their – chillingly, its? – eyes, he knows he’s being watched. And it knows that he knows, and with steady creep it crosses the room. In terror he twitches back, pressing himself against the wall.

“What do you want?” he squeaks out.

A dark, furred paw steps into the moonlight, then a snout, teeth bared. Zhassel in her Hound form is already panting as if she’s won the race, grinning as if she’s already got him between her teeth.

“Zhassel – “ Still shaking, he sits up, watches her prowl. “Zhassel, whatever it is you want, can’t we wait until – “

With a snarl, Zhassel bounds forward, leaping onto the mattress, jaws snapping inches from his nose. He shouts, throwing his arm up, shielding himself from the putrid fog of her breath. She’s salivating wildly, spraying him thickly.

And then she bites him on the shoulder.

It hurts – he thinks it hurts. He’ll figure it out later. But when her fangs pierce through his clothes and meet his skin, something in him snaps. It’s always been there, right beside him, in his reach – and he grabs the dagger beneath his pillow and jabs it right into her rib cage. It’s still wrapped in cloth, and he’s almost certain he might have taken it up somewhere in the middle, around the blade. But she isn’t expecting it all the same, and she yelps loudly, falling off the bed.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on October 24th, 2021, 2:01 pm

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For many long seconds he’s still holding the dagger the wrong way, around the blade and not beneath the hilt. The sides of the blade bite through the cloth, but it’s too dark to tell whether they’ve pierced through or broken the skin. When he’s older this sort of thing won’t cross his mind; he won’t be so cripplingly afraid of the act of simply being hurt. He’ll have learned that one can lose more blood than one thinks and still shoulder on.

He wonders if Zhassel is bleeding. She’s retreated to the far corner of the room, but now that he’s sighted her, he can pick out her form from the shadows. Pacing back and forth, she snarls, shakes her head. And it’s a relief, in its own roundabout, twisted way, because he hadn’t meant to hurt her, never means to do that to anyone, it’s just that she had pounced and he had moved without thinking and –

Without warning she lets out a growl and leaps again. But she knows he’s got the knife now, is very much aware of how little he’s used one, and she darts at his left side, the one without a weapon. She calculates correctly that he hasn’t got the dexterity or the speed to swing at her with a backhand. He falls backwards, kicking out wildly, and two tangle in his threadbare quilt. He can feel her bones through the fabric, the warmth of her manically beating heart, her teeth snapping through the patched wadding and – yes, he’s bleeding now, bleeding for certain, for she’s clamped down on his left hand. And it’s not on purpose that he does this – because the act of using the dagger on anything alive just doesn’t compute to him, seems like a horror he can’t imagine coming to – but he’s doing it all the same, because half his hand’s between her jaws, lodged between her incisors, and he can feel her tongue lolling in its own hot, noxious air.

She yelps again when he strikes. And it’s different this time, higher pitched, and the way she falls from the bed, like a punctured balloon –

In the moonlight, Caspian realizes the rough fabric’s slid down from its spiral, and the end of it, the very pointed part, is sticking out. When he looks up, Zhassel’s in her human form, propped up on her side, one hand clamped over her shoulder. He’d look away from her naked form, but she’s too unpredictable, and he’s too terrified to do anything but remain precisely in place.

She’s breathing heavily, in quick little huffs.

Because she’s laughing.

“Gods, you’re a rabbity one,” she says, sliding up to her feet.

He keeps his gaze trained on her eyes, though their wild, batty unfocus gives him a greater chill than the night air.

“What do you want?” he says, voice shaking.

She cocks her head. “Want?”

“What was – what was even the point? Are you trying to kill me?”

“Listen, you grubby little foundling. If I was actually trying to kill you, you’d know.”

That much is probably true.

“Then…?”

Suddenly she lunges.

He yelps, back striking the wall.

But she’d only been feinting. She rears back, laughing again. “You’re easy. Almost too easy, actually. And that’s not very fun.”

So she’s tormenting him simply because she’s –

Bored?

“Here’s another lesson for you, princeling,” she goes on, “and this one’s for free. I know you barely know your left bollock from your right, and you’ve got enough soft skin on you that we ought to sell you off for veal. We can’t help what we are. But we can sure as petch hide it until we sort ourselves out. So shape the hell up. No more of this whingeing or crying or moping around like a real mark. Or at least figure out how to fake it, before someone who actually means to harm you comes along. If you can't stab someone proper, at least learn how to hold the bloody thing so you look like you do."

He doesn’t know what to say. This is the most she’s ever spoken directly to him, and it’s oddly coherent.

He settles for, “Thank you.”

But she scoffs. “It’s not for you, ice rat. This house, this family – everyone needs to pull their own weight. And it would be an enormous pain in the ass if someone saw you for the weak link you are, and did something about it. Your father’s got enough on his plate.”

She leaves him loudly, with little ceremony. When she’s gone he shuts the door, props a chair beneath the handle. It won’t do much, but it makes him feel marginally better.

And, odder than Zhassel granting him an entire conversation – it’s the soundest he sleeps since being taken from Avanthal.
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The Sticking Point

Postby Caspian on November 8th, 2021, 1:50 pm

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In the morning it’s business as usual.

This would be a good thing, but he’s not at his usual. Eating breakfast suddenly presents itself as the most difficult thing in the world. He feels tied up, trussed up, can barely lift his arms from his sides, as if they’re rusted garden latches. To compensate, he stoops over his bowl as he eats, chin just inches above the rim. Though he’s famished, his body is far more sore, and after a few bites of graying, congealing gruel – suddenly not so terribly unattractive when he’s this hungry – he gives up, sits back and tries not to cry.

“What’s wrong wi’ ‘im?”

He should know better, but he looks up anyway. One of Taaldros’ friends is here, called Dip or Dap or something else equally inane. It’s worth mentioning that Dop is here fairly early in the morning and doesn’t appear to be cripplingly hungover, which is unusual for the company Caspian’s stepfather keeps.

“Oy.” Dob’s got a mouthful of bread, crumbs sticking to his patchy beard. “You sick in the head or summat?”

There’s no point explaining; though they’re both using Common, with someone as slow as Dod, they may as well be speaking entirely different languages.

“Leave him be.”

Caspian blinks. Out of everyone in the house, he had not expected Taaldros to be his savior. But that’s not entirely right, and silently he self-corrects – Taaldros doesn’t care two shykes about him or the fact that his every muscle is on fire, even the ones he didn’t know he was using. Like his hips, and whatever’s at the base of his spine. As evidenced by Taaldros impatiently gesturing for Dag to join him in the other room, to discuss whatever scheme they’ve got stewing for the day, he’d only wanted the man to keep moving and not waste time messing with his ailing stepson.

But Caspian would also like to expedite his present experience. He tries again, and it’s torture, gripping the spoon and raising it the barest of distances to his mouth. He needs to hurry, because he hasn’t seen Zhassel all morning, and after last night he just isn’t in the mood to see her again straightaway.

“You forgot this.” It’s Taalviel, though that’s not much of an improvement. The Kelvic Raven sets his cloth-wrapped dagger beside him.

“You went into my room?”

“I gave it to you for a reason. It should never leave your side,” she replies instead.

“You’re going to trust me with a knife?”

At this she makes a face. It’s almost amusement, but on her smiles are strained and twisted, as if someone had explained to her how to make one, once, and she hadn’t taken adequate notes.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go before that’s anything to worry about.”

When she tells him he needs to finish up and head out to the practice dummy again, he doesn’t even protest. Internally he’s screaming, just like his shoulders and every part of him that once could flex and is now burning and jammed. But he would have been surprised if she had said anything else.

The dummy looks much the same as it had the previous day; he would have thought that after hacking at it so many times he might have knocked it down a few pegs. If it were a person, after all his efforts, the worst they would have come away with would have been some mild bruising and possibly an annoying crick in their neck.

Taalviel doesn’t say anything, just watches him from the back porch with her arms crossed. He can barely raise his arm from his ribs; he tries anyway, grits his teeth, strains. And it’s up now, like a bird with a broken wing, but it’s there. He swings the dagger, the strike reverberating from his wrist up to his shoulder, making him grimace. He tightens his grip, though he feels as if the handle might slip from him any moment. He swings again and again, the dull sound echoing through the early morning.
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Caspian
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Joined roleplay: August 12th, 2018, 11:26 pm
Location: Zeltiva
Race: Human, Mixed
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