Solo A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Aster searches for the lost Imogen.

(This is a thread from Mizahar's fantasy role playing forums. Why don't you register today? This message is not shown when you are logged in. Come roleplay with us, it's fun!)

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

Moderator: Anomaly

A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Postby Asterope on December 27th, 2021, 1:17 am

Image
46th of winter, 521 AV

Sunberth was, it seemed, even more chaotic than usual. Another winter with no sign of snow or cold weather had set citizens on edge, and the gangs were at each other's throats, not to mention the mobs ready to descend at any rumour of a Vantha. In fact, they had; when Aster arrived at the Tent City in the late afternoon, she was stunned to find it in disarray. Not the purposeful disarray it usually was as a result of the chaotic people living there; the sort of disarray that came from destruction.

Tents were ripped and collapsed, belongings strewn in the makeshift streets and pathways. People eyed her more suspiciously as usual as she took the familiar path to Jala's, and Aster could smell the stench of at least one rotting corpse. Her measured walk increased in pace until she was sprinting through the destruction, whipping past people and lopsided tents, skidding to a halt in front of Jala's tent.

Relief flooded through her to see the woman's abode standing and in one piece. "Jala?" Aster called, as she approached, and she heard the woman respond from within, telling her to enter. Aster ducked into the tent, her eyes landing on the woman who looked even more exhausted than usual.

"Are you alright?" Aster asked, hurrying over to her; Jala let Aster clasp her hands without resistance, smiling tiredly.

"I'm fine," she assured Aster. "I can handle myself."

"What happened?" Aster blurted out, taking a seat when she was sure that Jala was okay. With a heavy, weary sigh, the woman explained the attack on Tent City within the last few days and how a mob from the city proper had been hunting supposed Vantha hiding within Tent City.

Aster's mouth pressed into a thin line as she listened, rubbing a hand over her face. She felt for the Vantha; being abandoned by their goddess, something she was familiar with, and then to have the rest of Mizahar hunting them. Not to mention there hadn't even been any Vantha in Tent City, at least none that were found; the people that ended up suffering weren't even the ones being hunted.

"I'm just glad you're okay," Aster finally spoke, reaching a hand out to squeeze Jala's quickly.

"I'm fine," Jala insisted, waving Aster off, then hesitated. Aster frowned at her.

"What is it?" She asked, uncertainly. Jala hummed thoughtfully, seeming to debate for a long moment before she spoke up.

"It could be nothing," she said, slowly. "It's just...with how the city has been this season, I'm a little worried. I haven't heard from Imogen in a few days. That's not necessarily unusual, she's a busy girl, but as I said; with how violent the gangs and mobs have been, I'm concerned. And last we spoke she mentioned something about looking for some sort of treasure up on Dust Bed Ridge."

Aster frowned more deeply at that; she'd been there before once, guided by a ghost who had possessed her, and the night had ended in her nearly being killed by an undead creature. If Jebediah, the keeper of the graveyard, hadn't been around to step in, she would certainly be dead. The thought of Imogen wandering around there alone made her uneasy.

"I told her not to go, the place is dangerous enough as is, but especially with the wolf attacks lately. You know how stubborn she is, though."

"Wolf attacks?" Aster repeated, surprised; it seemed it was one thing after another this season, and now she was well and truly concerned for Imogen. The girl was stubborn, and if she thought there was something worth looking for up in the ridge...

"I'm going to go look for her," Aster said, standing up abruptly.

Word count: 625
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 651
Words: 661387
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)

A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Postby Asterope on December 27th, 2021, 1:19 am

Image
"Don't do anything foolish," Jala admonished, gently. "The ridge is dangerous, Asterope. She could be fine, for all we know she's safe at the Orphanage right now. I just haven't had the chance to check with everything that happened here."

Aster sighed, rubbing a hand over her face; even Jala didn't sound entirely convinced. "Go check the Orphanage. I'll look for her at the ridge. I'll be fine, I've been there before. I can handle myself." She tried to sound casual and confident, but she had the feeling she wasn't entirely successful. It was true she had been there before; but that was about where the truth ended. Still, if Imogen had gone to the Dust Bed Ridge alone, she needed to be found as quickly as possible. The longer she was gone, the more likely it was she would run into something...unsavoury.

Jala was the one to reach out and grasp Aster's hand this time, her brows furrowed with concern. "Be safe. Don't do anything foolish. If I find her, I'll come get you immediately."

Aster smiled at Jala, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. "I'll be fine, Jala. I promise to be careful." The two women walked to the edge of the Tent City together before parting ways with a wave, Jala heading for the city proper to check the Orphanage while Asterope turned and began the walk to the Dust Bed. She hoped she wouldn't run into Jebediah; while the man had saved her life and wasn't exactly a threat to her, he was still awfully intimidating, and she would rather avoid interrogation for why she was poking around his cemetery.

The walk from Tent City to the Dust Bed was a long one, made faster by cutting through the city along the coast; if it had been something less urgent, Aster would have gladly taken the long way around and given the city proper as wide a berth as possible. But the faster she got there, the better; so she cut through the city, her hands clenched, fingernails digging into her palms and jaw tight. She had slowly become bolder, willing to visit Jala in Tent City during the day, but with Alard still looking for her she rarely dared to venture into the actual city during the day.

Still, she couldn't wait until nightfall. If Jala was right and it had already been days since Imogen had gone to the Dust Bed, then...Asterope didn't allow herself to finish her thought. All that mattered was she get there as quickly as possible. With any luck, Jala would find Imogen safe and sound at the Orphanage, and be able to make it to the Dust Bed to let her know before she ventured too deep into the ridge.

Somehow, Aster doubted things would work out quite so cleanly and conveniently. Still, she pressed on, managing to make it through the city without incident and leaving it behind as she hiked up the steep, rocky slope of the coast towards the Dust Bed, and then further beyond to the Dust Bed Ridge. The sun had sunk low towards the horizon by then, early evening beginning to darken the sky.

Word count: 532
Total: 1,157
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 651
Words: 661387
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)

A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Postby Asterope on December 27th, 2021, 1:23 am

Image
Seeing no sign of Jebediah, Aster hurried up towards the ridge as quickly as she could. Not so distantly, she heard low, mournful howls that sent a chill up her spine as she recalled Jala's words about the recent wolf attacks. Her hand went to her neck, fingers curling around the maledicted pendant of Navi's tooth as she inhaled deeply, mustering her bravery as she forced herself to keep walking. She would be fine; she had to find Imogen.

As the graves around her became more faded and worn, many marked with deep scratches from claws from unknown creatures, and crypts rose up before her, Aster knew she was going in the right direction. What she wasn't expecting was to hear a low snarling sound, much closer than the previous howls, and to round the corner and find a young woman backed up against a crypt, three thin, ragged looking wolves surrounding her.

Aster froze in shock for a moment, then before she even realized what she was doing began moving towards the woman even as the wolves snarled and snapped at her, edging closer. Aster whistled sharply, drawing their attention for a moment; their ears flicked curiously, bushy tails wagging not unlike a dog for a moment as they saw her approaching, but their focus was intent on the young woman.

Aster felt a pang of pity. She could make out the outline of their ribs as she approached, and their fur was dull and matted. Clearly it had been a hard season for the animals; they must be desperate, to be coming this close to the city and to corner a human. Then one of them lunged.

Aster did as well. She throw herself in front of the woman, hand clenched around her necklace, praying silently to anybody who would listen, please, please don't let it fail her now of all times. The wolf, thin as it was, still hit her with considerable force, and Aster grunted as she hit the ground with the creature on top of her, yellowed fangs flashing as its teeth snapped at her throat, only for it to pause when it realized it did not have its intended prey beneath it.

Yellow eyes locked with gold as Aster stared up at the wolf on top of her, breathless. She swallowed hard, trying not to show her fear. "Off," Aster said, her voice shaking slightly, and pushed with one hand at the large beast on top of her. The wolf whined for a moment, conflict in its piercing eyes. Aster's fingers tightened around the charm hanging around her neck.

After a long moment that seemed to stretch on forever, the wolf stepped off her, and leaned down, sniffing at her face before licking a stripe up her cheek with its rough tongue. The smell was worse than any dog breath she'd ever experienced, but Aster laughed, partly in surprise, partly in shock, and partly in genuine delight. The other two wolves were watching, ears half-pinned.

Word count: 501
Total: 1,658
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 651
Words: 661387
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)

A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Postby Asterope on December 27th, 2021, 1:25 am

Image
"Good...wolf," Aster said, hesitantly, gently patting the thick fur around its neck as she stood cautiously. Inhaling deeply, she made a shooing gesture. "Now go on, get out of here, all of you." She didn't know how well her charm worked, or how long it would hold when warring with the wolves' hunger; it was best that she and the woman got away from them as soon as possible. "Go on!" Aster said, slightly more sharply, not taking her eyes off the wolves as she reached for the woman, taking a hold of her arm.

The wolves all watched her, whining, and then one by one slunk away into the shadows as Aster began leading the woman further along the path, not daring to take her eyes off the animals until she could no longer see them. Letting out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, Aster turned to the woman, who had been silent this whole time.

"Are you alright? What are you doing all the way out here?" Aster asked, her gaze scanning the woman automatically for injuries, but she seemed fine. She was young, her rich brown hair falling in loose curls, and her dark eyes were surprisingly warm as she smiled at Aster. There was nothing particularly striking about her, yet something about her presence felt...calming, and Aster could already feel her pounding heart slowing in her chest.

"I'm fine," the woman spoke in a soft voice, placing her hand over Aster's on her arm. "Thank you very much. That was brave of you. Weren't you scared?"

Aster hesitated; if the woman was from Sunberth she couldn't just admit to having a magic item that allowed her to act as brashly as she had, no matter how nice she seemed. Besides, she had still been plenty scared. "I was," she said, honestly. "But I uhm...have a way with animals, I guess you could say." That wasn't entirely a lie. The woman looked almost amused for a moment. "What are you doing up here anyway?"

"I could ask you the same question," the woman countered, and Aster abruptly remembered why she was there, saving damsels in distress from hungry wolves aside.

"Oh, no. I have to go, I'm sorry. I'm looking for a young girl, I think she came up here alone and I need to find her. Will you be okay to get back to the city on your own?" Aster asked, gaze already scanning the area for any hint of Imogen as she dropped her hand from the woman's arm. If the wolves really were being this bold...

"I'll be fine," the woman assured Aster. "That sounds important. Good luck finding her. I'll keep an eye out on my way back as well."

"Thank you. Be safe," Aster said, flashing a distracted smile to the woman. She was ready to leave, but the woman held up a hand.

"Wait! Before you go, maybe you should take that. It's starting to get dark." The woman motioned to a lit torch hanging from a sconce outside the crypt she'd been backed up against. Aster hadn't noticed it before now. "I had been trying to reach it to scare the wolves off, but you arrived just in time."

"Thank you," Aster repeated. "I imagine I'll need it." She didn't have any light source on her; she never wore her magical cloak into the city, after all. Flashing the woman a grateful smile, Aster carefully removed the torch from its holder before she was off again, half-running up the winding path between crypts and headstones, holding the torch aloft. "Imogen?!" She called as she went, leaving the woman behind as she turned another corner. Just as she left the woman behind, though Aster could swear she heard her call out one last thing; 'be brave', it sounded like she had said.

Word count: 643
Total: 2,301
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 651
Words: 661387
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)

A Light Called Hope (Part I)

Postby Asterope on December 27th, 2021, 1:27 am

Image
Aster was beginning to lose hope the further up the ridge she climbed, the crypts beginning to thin out, when something unusual caught her eye. There; one of the crypts had its rusted iron gate propped open. All the other ones had been closed so far. "Oh, please," Aster breathed, making a beeline for the crypt.

She stepped inside, peering around, and a chill ran through her as she realized it looked familiar. It was the same crypt she'd entered last time she had visited the ridge, spurred on by the ghost possessing her. Aster stepped further inside cautiously, laying her hand on the dusty stone coffin sitting at the back of the room; the lid was still just slightly ajar from where she had pushed it open to retrieve the dagger from inside.

Had Imogen come through here? Why? Aster swallowed at the memory of the hideous undead creature that had been lurking down the stairs, and her stomach dropped at the thought of Imogen coming across such a monster. What if she was...? No, she couldn't think like that. Imogen was one of the few good things in her life, one of the people she cared deeply about. She didn't know what she would do if the girl was hurt, or worse; she would do whatever she could to ensure her safety.

Inhaling deeply, Aster squared her shoulders and descended the stone steps into the darkness of the crypt below; the pale light of the evening sky behind her vanished, replaced with the flickering light from her torch, shadows dancing along the stone walls around her. At the bottom of the steps, Aster peered around for any sign of Imogen's presence. The floor was thick with dust; it had been seasons since she'd been down there, and it seemed nobody had been there since. Except...squinting, Aster crouched, bringing her torch low to the ground. There; those looked like footprints, smaller than an adult's, just barely visible imprints in the dust on the stone floor.

"Please be okay," Aster breathed, following the direction of the footprints. They led down a narrow side tunnel she hadn't noticed last time she'd been there; who needed such a large crypt, anyway? As Aster walked, she wondered if the ghost that had brought her there last was still around, or if she was well and truly gone.

As she walked, the only sounds that echoed around her were her breathing and footsteps, but Aster couldn't help but glance nervously over her shoulder every so often. The flame from her torch flickered, sending shadows dancing and swaying along the walls and floor as she walked, darkness seeming to swirl in corners and at the edge of her vision. She could feel her chest beginning to tighten; it was dark down here, so unfathomably dark, she could make it out just beyond the edge of the light. And it was claustrophobic, too...a low ceiling, narrow walls, who knew how many feet below heavy, pressing earth.

(Continued in A Light Called Hope Part II*)

Word count: 500
Total: 2,801
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 651
Words: 661387
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)


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests