Aesa - The Long Road

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Kaybrie
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Aesa - The Long Road

Unread post by Kaybrie » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:44 pm

Inky blackness waxed and waned across the dark timber walls. The ceiling was a sickening swirl of unpainted rings, nauseating. A cool draft billowed curtains at the end of the room and sent shivers across the room’s occupant, a woman long of limb and of taut, twisted muscle who lay atop a damp mattress in a feverish sweat. Her eyes lidded, and her expression twisted into a grimace. She thought only on taking the next breath easy, slowly, to spare the sloshing pail at her bedside further indignity.

At the head of the room, a thick door on old hinges groaned as a tired miser, yawning open to spill the shadow of a man across its threshold. Such a man stepped through, laden with a basket, blankets, and a bucket that swung near full with water. He approached the bed and its cargo and set all these things down in turn, and he held a careful breath as he hefted and removed a certain pail to a corner of the room. He returned bedside and stole the woman’s wet sheets, noticed again the hard-drawn map of war on the woman’s skin as he replaced the bedding with layers warm and dry.

“You are not so vast, absent the armor, Aesa,” the man murmured as he sunk a cloth into the bucket he’d brought. He carried the cloth to the woman’s tortured features, and with careful diligence, he cleansed her face, her neck.

Steady, slow breaths escaped her in turn as he worked about the bed. Her body leaned and lifted as best as she could to help along the process. Her gut wrenched with each attempt at aid and it was all she could do to contain the pitiful groans. Settled however, she began to relax into the refreshed nest, her eyes blearily blinking toward the roof as she recognized that this was perhaps real and he was truly next to her.

“The plates and padding do most of the heavy lifting; a frail waif makes for an appealing target afterall.” A toothy smile flickered toward him at that moment, exhausted but not unbroken. She twitched a bit as the cloth padded her marred visage, though she allowed her azure and crimson eyes a moment to rest on his features: clear and bold, unlike what she remembered. “Thank you.” Softly spoken, apologetic even.

“What man would command you to be rid of your vice, then be well of your own device?” The poet’s hands captured the woman’s face and cradled it still as he washed the thin skin just beneath the woman’s eyes. “There’s no sense in doing a thing alone when there’s one willing and well able.”

He clutched the cloth into a ragged ball and set it aside, then bent and plucked something from the basket he’d brought: a mug yet steaming. He held it aloft for the woman’s gaze. “Broth,” he murmured, the man’s lips and tongue announcing the sustenance with breathy reverence. “You do have to eat.”

“You know I am slow to let anyone help me.” A slow but deliberate response. Her legs bent and slowly eased her back up against the headboard. She gave herself a moment to catch her breath, to ease her nausea and the aches. Her eyes fluttered down to the broth, already accusing it of treachery. She lifted her hands toward it; each rattled like leaves in the fall. “Felt steadier drunk and bloody.” She growled and let her hands drop, frustrated.

“Why do you care? A lost Uthgardt without allegiance drunk of her own failings. One would think you had better things to do, better people to keep company.” Even as she retained a smile plain upon her features, her eyes betrayed thoughts of a more melancholy corner of her mind.

The blond man brought the cup to the woman’s lips, gold-flecked gaze peering over its rim to address the woman’s own bloodshot blue. “I have only my promises; all else flees. Don’t wonder that I keep them. Drink.”

Her brows knit and her mouth opened as though she were preparing to retort, though she resigned to instead sip from the presented cup. Her eyelids fell once more, and she slurped from his hand. Perhaps it was better not to fight, to enjoy his company instead.

The man held the cup aloft until the broth was gone, and he set it down at the bedside. He returned to the woman and slipped one hand between her head and the board bracing it, the other around her lower back. He carried her back into prostrate repose and straightened the linens over her languid form, sat alongside her at the edge of the bed and laid his bare hand upon her head, above her eyes. His fingers weaved into the black disarray of the woman’s hair as his gentle timbre began the incantation of a lullaby.

“Breathe, breathe, sleep tight
The day has gone with its ordeals
And there is nothing else to feel
But peace, peace, goodnight

Stray heart, stray heart, don’t fight
Be still, be still, I’ll make you steady
And I promise tomorrow you’ll be ready
To find your footing and be bright.”

She grunted in protest as he eased her back down to her pillow, and her eyes found themselves gazing once more at that sickening swirl on the ceiling. Peeling to the side, they sought a much more comfortable vision on the dark knight at her bedside. His hand pressed upon her head gave some measure of relief to the pounding in her skull, easing her body at least in part. Deep, steady breaths followed as she kept her focus and found herself audience to her own show and his splendid voice.

“Hush, hush, you’ll be all right
There’s nothing here to make you doubt
We’ve left concern well without
And nothing’s left but moon and light

So breathe, breathe, sleep tight
You cannot fall; I have your hand
I’ll be stood here til you can stand
Peace, peace, goodnight.”

She didn’t want to go, but she was, her body finally giving her the peace she needed for rest. The tune eased her muscles, and her limbs limply embraced the mattress. Even as her consciousness slipped, she knew when she awakened she would be alone again. It didn’t matter to her tired body; she faded from sensibility. Dreams rode forth, and the Uthgardt fell alone once more into the confines of her own mind.


<Collaboration with RedLancer>

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Kaybrie
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Re: Aesa - The Long Road

Unread post by Kaybrie » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:40 pm

The rain pattered tirelessly upon a canvas bonnet, suspended above a weary warrior resting in an otherwise hollow carriage. Light flashed from the yawning cleft set open to the storm's rage; followed in step by a warning growl, Talos proclaiming his dominance over the weary folk of the coast. At the deck of the coach was splayed out chain and heavy plate both in discordant segments, parted from the owner whom laid with her boots resting at the seam where wood met cloth. Her dark hair coiling down her scarred countenance where wounds had long since sealed yet the signs of battle remained. Her hands shook lightly without armor to bind them, gripping a wrinkled book with neatly drawn and somehow secure ink styled upon its pages. A burning pain abruptly peeled up her forearms, as though skin were being shaved by a careful yet cruel surgeon.
A wave of sharp instruments burst forth from the weave as light bloomed out from the dark woman; a beautiful lotus of light bending and coalescing toward her at blinding speed, arms raised Aesa roared and powered through. The searing light carved upon chain and plate, piercing through as though it were not there at all. Her flesh split under the barrage, she needn't even look to know the wounds it was inflicting. Her eyes spied the crimson cloth of what had been her crumpled upon the soil, she would need to make due without holy intervention.

Her attention refocused, forward. The dark foe already extended a callous hand toward her; setting another violent bolt of energy upon the charging Uthgardt. Aesa extended her left palm and caught the torrent, more pain wracked down her fingers and to her shoulder. Her foes eyes were caught wide as Aesa gripped the blade of her longsword in both hands and pounded the woman's shield aside, arcane illusions failed and she caught a blow upon the darkling's crown. There was motion, a fleeting page torn from the dark elf's reserve. A curse called out from corrupt immortal to human woman and in that next instant she stood alone.
She set the book in her lap and ran her fingers along the back of her forearms in turn, slow motions over one another. She paced her lungs, slow and cautious as she eased the remembrance from her arms then her mind, expelling the closing ache with a final breath. The digits of her right hand wrapped in and through shallow crevices in her arm, each its own vivid memory. She let her head come to rest against the wooden brace behind her, a tangled mess of hair padding the else wise poignant motion.
Bone and flesh encased in a dome of steel violently crashed against jagged stone, liquid copper pooled in her mouth and sputtered out over the rim of her lips. Vision blurred as she stared out at the gaping maw of her assailant. Grey-green skin wrapped over lumpy mold with sharp abscessed teeth whipping cords of saliva over and into the gaps of her helmet. The creature's roar barely registered over the ringing in her ears. Her blade lifted in her yet free hand and hacked down into the arm pinning her to the wall, she was answered with vertigo as the world shifted and spun out of control. It came to an end with another lurch and surge of pain, her hands swept the mossy floor beneath and she immediately made to rise. Clamoring over the ringing and the pounding of her heart in her ears came heavy footsteps, her sword raised before she found her footing and she was greeted by a shower of sickly, caustic blood and a flicker of flame on steel that emerged and vanished from the troll's neck.

The beast before her swayed and fell to the side even as her feet finally found purchase and her knees locked to lift her body from the floor. Over the slumped body came a dark knight, speaking words she could not explicitly make out yet managed to understand none-the-less.

"I'm fine." She lied; igniting the alchemical flame upon her sword again. An affirming nod was given, whether he believed her or not was irrelevant so long as she would not admit her burdens. They moved onward, the silhouettes of his dancing form and her plodding gait highlighted about their blazing weapons against the bleakness of the cavern and the encroaching monsters within.
The carriage lurched to a halt, her trinkets were gathered into a bag and she slowly eased herself from the back, lifting a grateful hand to the driver even as he urged his equine beasts ahead. She lifted her cowl overhead and examined her surroundings, the mighty stone bridge rested over a rippling river. The rain continued to fill shallow holes and what few tracks there were from wagons that yet dared venture so near to the Demon's nest. It was an unimportant, forgotten corner of the coast, where only the most austere remained watchful or desperate settled.

Her eyes watched shades dance in her minds eye over patches of grass along the roadside; an aging warrior bestowing her experience upon a cowering student. His body became more sturdy and his motions more controlled; while her composure softened and her heart warmed. She would remember him fondly, and carry his memory forward in the same way she carried everything else. She walked then to a secret place, and set into the soil a trinket of his memory. She knelt before an invisible monument for her and he, his unmarked and empty grave.

In that quiet place she wept honestly and sincerely, shedding her guilt so that she might take up his drive.

She could be better, she had to be.

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