Cooperative Fiction

Skip to content

To Catch The Fly

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

The Elf's sarcastic question was barely audible, but Uluki caught the general idea. "Yes, unless we already know," she answered simply.

Uluki couldn't remember Rollick actually asking it-- but he hadn't needed to. Martha's family, and then the group of non-humans who had arrived the day before had volunteered the information. If they hadn't, Uluki had no doubt Rollick would have politely sought it. The arrival of the other refugees had coincided with either Uluki and the Lightswords' trip to the shanty town to rescue Kaydee and Julen, or with the raid the warriors carried out against Snyde. The were no refugees who had shown up without explanation; they would have been asked.

Cindy sinking to her knees touched Uluki, in a way Uluki wouldn't have expected. It wasn't that she felt anybody should be in awe of her-- once people knew her, they would certainly realize just how ordinary she was-- but it almost felt like... like Uluki was a symbol of some kind of hope for the young woman. And while she didn't need or want the awe, there was a lot to be said for hope.

Uluki returned Cindy's smile, then turned her attention back to Rollick, and helped Orion get him upstairs.

((Continued: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1742&p=17969#p17969))
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Falcon Bertille on

“It’s alright,” Rosemary assured Marjorie. “My husband felt pretty awed the first time he met Uluki. His mother told him a lot of fairy tales when he was younger. And frankly, I think there’s a part of him which never grew up either.”

Then, seeing that Bonnie was already poised to go on ahead of them, Rosemary spoke softly to Cindy. “You’ll have more time to spend with the fairy later. Right now, we should get food and water for you and your friends.”

Once Cindy had gotten back to her feet, Rosemary led the trio of refugees inside. “Try not to take Rollick’s questions too personally. I’m sure he didn’t mean to accuse you of anything. But it’s true that we’ve made some enemies by starting this compound.” Now that the topic of safety had already been broached, Rosemary didn’t see any reason to hold things back. “If you’ve been in the shanty town for long, you may have heard of a man named Dominic Snyde. He didn’t like it when we gave his girls the chance for a better life.”

Despite the absence of the warriors and the commotion surrounding Rollick’s kidnapping, compound life seemed to be proceeding mostly as usual. One group of women sat in a circle on the floor, laughing and chatting as they worked on their sewing projects. Another group looked after the children. Tulip knelt beside a table she’d improvised from a crate, diligently copying words from one piece of paper to another. Sean and Ian, dismayed at having been left behind when Karsimir rode off to battle, were reluctantly helping their mother wash a pile of laundry.

Spotting Callie, Rosemary waved her over. “Callie? What happened to that leftover beef stew?”

“We put it in the cellar.” One of the compound buildings had a small underground room, accessible only by a trap door and a newly constructed rope ladder. Rosemary had quickly realized its potential as a place to store perishable food items. “Would you like me to go get some?”

“That would be very helpful, thank you. Enough for three large bowlfuls.”

While Callie went to fetch food, Rosemary led her guests over to the cooking area. “Once you’ve eaten, we’ll got to the storage room and try to find some things you can use for bedding. Unless there’s something else you’d like to do first?”

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Grasshoppers on

If Marjorie had any response to Uluki's simple reply beyond sulking, it was not apparent. Cindy did manage a hesitant returned smile before the fairy and her entourage left, standing when the elf tugged at her shoulder and feeling shy. Her expression lit up when Rosemary spoke of stories.

"Your husband knows fairy tales? Does he know many? Perhaps he could tell me..."

Marjorie only rolled her eyes and sighed, shrugging in personal defeat with regards to diverting the human's attention again. She instead tried to interrupt the thoughts steadily trundling along in Cindy's mind by changing the subject.

"Yeh, more'n 'eard of 'im. Part of the reason we left. Big part."

Once inside of the room, Cindy became more reserved, her eyes going entirely distant with the odd detachment she'd carried the whole way. Neither Marjorie nor Bonnie seemed to think this was important or out of character - neither seemed to notice at all. Their eyes roamed over the area in a combination of curiosity and disbelief. Bonnie replied to Rosemary's final question.

"No' yet. Eating come first. Look'n Marj, she got hardly no skin on'er."

The elf replied with a grumble, but Cindy's face suddenly lit with an excited laugh, clapping her hands together in personal delight. After taking a nice long while examining every group of refugees therein, Marjorie turned to Rosemary, leaking suspicion from every pore of her body. The overt signs of what seemed to be people happily moving along with their lives did not help to soothe the elf's paranoia.

"Why're they 'elping likes of us - the soldiers an' them? What'sit they want back?"

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

Orion did as Rollick had requested in regards to informing the warriors, but once he had accomplished that task, he still wasn't quite satisfied.

It wasn't that he had particular reason to doubt these refugees. But Uluki had been nice to him, and Uluki loved Rollick, and Rollick was worried... so Orion wanted to do something for them. Some gesture of friendship.

Not that he would call it that, of course. He would just tell them he was satisfying his own curiosity, or something like that. Or claim that he'd been worried too, and was acting out of pure self-interest. Because once you got into the whole "gestures of friendship" bit, you made yourself vulnerable. Set yourself up for rejection. For people to laugh at you, mock you for the life you'd been forced to lead-- for not being a man, as they interpreted the concept. They wouldn't understand that male flesh could be sold as easily, cheaply, and exploitatively as female flesh, and that he carried the same scars. That to him, it wasn't funny in the slightest; it hurt. There was no use looking for friends. Best to be in it for yourself... or at least to pretend to be.

Orion rejoined Rosemary and the three refugees just in time to hear Majorie's question, and he didn't interrupt the answer. He simply eased his way back into the group, prepared to watch and listen.
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Falcon Bertille on

Again, Rosemary beamed at Cindy. “Yes, my husband knows quite a few fairy tales. Before Julen came to Marn, things weren’t going very well for us. I worried a lot. Some nights, when I couldn’t sleep, he’d tell me stories until I drifted off.” Rosemary shook her head, reluctantly casting aside the memory. “I’m sure that he’ll be happy to tell them to you, as well. But you’ll have to wait until he gets back. He’s in Shim right now, with some of the other warriors.”

Rosemary’s curiosity was piqued when she heard Marjorie describe Snyde as a big part of the reason why the trio had decided to seek asylum. She couldn’t help wondering if the women had worked for Snyde. Unfortunately, certain questions -- questions such as: Hey, did you used to be whores? -- were simply not part of polite conversation. So Rosemary was left to speculate. Certainly, Bonnie’s outfit suggested that she’d been trying to sell something, although Rosemary couldn’t imagine what man sort of man would have been interested in buying.

As soon as Callie returned with a small pot of stew, Rosemary placed it over the fire to begin warming it. Then she turned her attention to cutting off some pieces of hearty rye bread for the new arrivals. Facing away from the three women, she answered Marjorie’s question while she worked. “They’re helping you because it’s the right thing to do. Because they believe that everyone deserves the chance to make a good life for themselves. As for what they want in return, it’s true that this isn’t a free handout. Once you’ve gotten settled in, you’ll be expected to help out around the compound -- cooking, cleaning, working in the garden, or making handcrafts. But the work isn’t unpleasant. And it’s certainly not more than a healthy body can bear.”

Rosemary turned back to the trio, handing each of them a thick slice of bread. At that moment, she noticed Orion for the first time, and gave him a welcoming smile. A great deal of her old wariness around men had faded during her days at Lightsword Hall. All the warriors treated her with such propriety, she no longer feared being misinterpreted or accosted. Besides, she supposed that an elf would be unlikely to be moved by human beauty anyway. “Thank you for helping Rollick get to his room. How was he doing when you left him?”

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Grasshoppers on

Marjorie and Bonnie took their bread immediately, both beginning to take steady bites in light of the raging hunger they had in their bellies. Cindy plucked the slice from Rosemary's fingers with a light sigh of contentment, bringing it forward to hold just under her nose and sniff carefully at the crust. Whatever she was searching for in the scent appeared to be present, for her next motion was a dainty nibble. She savoured the taste with another breezy sigh, eyelids lowering into a near-sleeping expression. Food of any kind served as a delicacy; unlike her comrades, she intended to enjoy every morsel they received with the reverent care of a beggar feeling the grace of god.

She looked at Orion while her friends ate greedily behind her, eyes drifting down enough to once again indicate she was listening to words beyond the spoken language surrounding her. Marjorie spoke through a full mouth while the young human sifted through whatever odd thoughts might be drifting about her head.

"Bonnie can cook. Cindy does crafts, like - she learned when she was young to, to sew and knit and weave...I guess I can handle the garden."

She sounded unsure of this conviction, scratching at one cheek as she considered the implications of tending plants. They were fragile and fickle; she had no idea if she could manage. But if it kept a nice roof over her head and meals in her belly, she would hoe until her back broke.

Cindy suddenly spoke, eyes wafting between the elves now present. Her words breathed through her lips with an airy lisp of awe as her eyes widened. The hand not clasping bread pointed at the center of Orion's chest, where his heart might lie.

"Oh, Marjorie. Is this your brother?"

Marjorie's face turned red and her eyes nearly popped. She hissed through clenched teeth, embarrassed by this newest social transgression.

"I've told you, dammit, pointed ears don't make family..."

Cindy only smiled in reply, though her eyes remained impassive and dull. That she'd forgotten this particular bit of elf-related etiquette was obvious enough, but she did not see a reason to apologize and relieve her friend's spontaneous distress at the idea of family relations.

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

Orion was surprised when Rosemary expressed gratitude to him for something that wasn't even directly related to her. For a moment his awkwardness was apparent, and he shifted his weight and tugged his ear-- a gesture that looked slightly out of place when done by an Elf rather than a human.

"He seemed alright. I mean, as much as he could be, after all that. Glad to see his kids. Uluki seems better, too, having him back." Orion had been really worried about her when he'd seen her kneeling in the dirt, struggling for breath, terrified about what was happening to her husband. "Not an easy thing for Rollick, but he'll get through it."

He smiled at Rosemary, in a way that was purely friendly and platonic. It wasn't that he found her unattractive-- his taste in feminine beauty did not run exclusively toward his fellow Elves, and Rosemary was certainly lovely enough to catch his attention-- but he was also aware that she was another man's wife, so lusting after her would be foolish. Maybe even dangerous, since Orion had heard she was the wife of soldier. No good would come of undue interest in a married woman, especially when that woman's husband could break Orion like a twig. Besides, even with no other obstacles in his path, what woman would want a man who had been a whore, in the literal rather than the figurative sense, his body used by others for money? He had no more chance with anyone else.

"You're married to one of the warriors, aren't you, Missus?" he asked, merely confirming the gossip based on his previous train of thought. He'd been told the husband's name, but never having met the man, he couldn't bring it to mind. Concerned that Rosemary would think he was still on the subject of Rollick's injury, Orion hastily added, "You must miss him, but I've no doubt he'll come home safe."

The refugee woman's comment about whether he might be the other Elf's brother drew a raised eyebrow. "Nope, haven't got any sisters. That kind of thing tends to make an impression; I wouldn't likely forget."

The Elf woman called herself Marjorie. A human name, and probably not her real one. Of course, Orion wasn't his own original name either... that life was too long ago, and it ached like a wound to try to revisit it. He was Orion now.

"So, were you three whores like me, or did you ply a more respectable trade in the shanty town?"

There was no use hiding what he'd been. Most people already knew, anyway. Belatedly he realized that a proper lady like Rosemary might be offended by such a candid discussion of prostitution, but the question was asked and it was too late to censor himself.
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Falcon Bertille on

Relief soothed Rosemary’s heart when Orion told her that Rollick was doing alright. His collapse had genuinely frightened her, and she knew that a long struggle still lay ahead. Rosemary could only imagine how hard this must be for him. If it had been Julen -- no, she refused to think about that. What if she jinxed her husband just by envisioning a misfortune? But she didn’t need to picture Julen missing a hand or foot to know what such a loss would mean to anyone. Fortunately, Rollick had his family, and his family had each other. That made all the difference.

Rosemary nodded in approval as Marjorie listed the skills possessed by Bonnie and Cindy. However, when the elf seemed unsure about gardening, Rosemary was quick to reassure her. “Of course, those aren’t the only options. You never know what’s going to need doing around here. A few days ago, we were digging fortifications. And then, just yesterday, we spent hours carving pointed stakes for the warriors to take with them. It’s always something different.”

Once the stew had warmed, Rosemary divided it into three bowls, which she handed to the trio. At the same time, she answered Orion’s question. “Yes, I’m married to one of the warriors. Although he wasn’t a warrior when he made me his wife. Julen was just a farmer, back then.” A slight touch of wistfulness entered Rosemary’s tone, but she shook it off. “Now, of course, he’s Karsimir’s yeoman. And the first Lightsword.” Despite her ongoing struggle with Julen’s new career, Rosemary still felt fiercely proud of all that he’d accomplished.

“I do miss him.” Orion’s empathy regarding Julen’s absence was greatly appreciated, and Rosemary gave him a grateful smile. “But I trust Karsimir to bring him safely home.”

“Have you ever been married, Orion?” He looked a little too young for matrimony. But Rosemary knew that elves aged much more slowly than humans, which made their true years hard to guess.

When Cindy asked Marjorie if Orion was her brother, Rosemary initially accepted the question at face value. Misfortune and poverty had torn so many refugees away from their parents, or children, or lovers. Perhaps Marjorie really did have a long-lost brother. But Marjorie’s hissed correction made the situation clear. Luckily, Orion didn’t seem offended by the suggestion that all elves must somehow be related, and Rosemary judged it best to let the topic drop.

Orion’s next words startled Rosemary. Not so much because they lacked delicacy -- she’d grown rather accustomed to the blunt manners of her fellow refugees -- but because they presented a new idea. It had never occurred to her that a man could be a whore. But then again, why not? Why couldn’t a wife be unsatisfied with her husband’s performance in bed? Why couldn’t a single woman long for a night of intimate pleasure? If men felt these things, then surely some women did too. True, Rosemary had never met a woman who admitted such feelings, but she’d also never met a man who confessed to using a prostitute. Part of Rosemary itched to press Orion for more details. But she was not her husband, so politeness reigned in her curiosity. Instead, she only glanced over at the trio, awaiting their reply.

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Grasshoppers on

Marjorie's mouth pulled up into a cynical smile as she regarded Orion with renewed interest. That they shared some level of past injustice made him as close to family as any of them would get. Fueled by the blunt question and her own propensity for dark humour, she shrugged a shoulder in Bonnie's direction.

"Would you buy that?"

Bonnie paid no heed to the discussion, consuming both soup and bread in contented silence. "Ill-fitting" was the kindest designation that her wardrobe could be labeled as; it was, when examined, horrifying. The clothes were a minimum of three sizes too small for her pudgy figure, forcing globs of flesh to protrude or bulge over and under where the fabric ended. The resulting image was a far cry from tempting - but the appealing side of her sexuality was not her bearing.

Marjorie shrugged again, ignoring Bonnie as Bonnie ignored her.

"She's bossy, you know how 'at sells. I scrubbed floors - lookit me. The boys tried pokin' an' I poked 'em back."

She thunked an elbow against one of her palms, to indicate the sharp edges that defined her shape.

"Got a rough tongue too, ne'er learned to take the barbs out. Boys only like a sharp tongue when it's tongin' their balls."

She turned her head away from Rosemary as she spoke, focusing on Cindy as the woman settled down to sit across from Bonnie. The elf's expression shifted to something more protective, sadder than before. For the moment, she looked weighed down by knowledge of how the world worked.

"And'er - closest ya can get ta sleepin' with a kid withou' actually doin' i'."

She began setting her bowl down at the same table as the other two, shifting to sit next to Bonnie.

"She dun notice, tho' - ya c'n ask'er. She'll'ust tell ya somethin' 'bout fairies an' whatno'."

Marjorie tucked into her food, and Cindy picked up the conversation while dipping the tip of her bread into the warmed soup.

"We were in a smaller house, not large, not really a house even..."

She closed her eyes and turned her head up to regard Rosemary directly, opening the lids half-way once her head was oriented and smiling.

"Snyde tried to take us away..."

Marjorie spoke through a mouth of soup-soaked bread."

"'E's sryin' uh buil'it bak u'."

She swallowed hard, flinching as the too-large gulp slid down her esophagus in a painfully strained path.

"He wanted ta try an' make us'is new stock, but we left instead. 'Eard about this place'n thought it might be worth a look."

If any of the three women had an opinion on Rosemary's warrior husband, they kept it to themselves.

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

Orion turned bright red when Rosemary asked if he'd been married. "No, I... no, Missus, never," he stammered. Did she seriously think someone would want to marry him, or was she mocking him? He tensed for a moment, suspecting he was being made a fool of, but her face looked sincere, and he relaxed. "I don't think marriage is to be my fate. To much water under the bridge for that. Doesn't matter, though. I survived; what more can I ask?" A lazy grin, just a tiny bit forced, slid across his face. Somehow it had been easier to keep up his indifferent facade when people were being cruel to him than it was when they were actually kind, and he felt the mask slipping.

He would have liked to marry. Would have liked to have a companion, someone to trust, someone he could always talk to. But it was too late now, after Snyde and the brothel. Orion reminded himself once again that it didn't matter. At least he was out of there. He fully expected to be celibate for the rest of his life-- but that was better than being a whore. Even if he slept alone, at least he could gather the tattered remnants of his self-respect back around him.

Orion shrugged in response to whether a man would pay to sleep with Bonnie. "Some likely would. Their tastes run different, and sometimes they don't even seem to care who's underneath them. You'd think if you were naked with someone and you saw they were all bruised up, or so skinny their ribs stuck out, or near coughing their lungs up, you'd try to help them rather than taking your pleasure of them. But people never... it never happens that way. They never care if you're alright. All you are is a body, and as long as they can get what they want, they just climb on top of you and go at it..."

Realizing that not only was he sounding increasingly bitter, but that what he was saying was also increasingly less appropriate for Rosemary's ears, he abruptly tried to make his comments a little less descriptive.

"And you're right, they don't like someone who speaks for themselves. I used to be like that too. The clients would complain, and Snyde himself didn't have any patience with it. If you talked back to him or acted like you weren't going along with him, he'd beat it out of you. And if you tried to stop, tried to get away, that's when things got really bad. Shackles and... a lot worse."

He'd been about to elaborate, to discuss in detail what "worse" meant, but once again concern for Rosemary stopped him. She was a decent woman who had a happy life with her husband. Julen. Orion had heard that name a lot; all of the refugees seemed to like Julen very much. Presumably the man was equally kind to his wife. The last thing Rosemary needed was to hear about what it was like when you were a whore.

Orion turned to the three refugee women, an edge of desperation adding urgency to his voice. "Don't go back there. Whatever you do, don't let Snyde get hold of you. It never stops, once he does. He'll make your life a misery till he puts you in your grave, unless... unless you're luckily enough to get away. If people were lucky enough to get away twice, they'd be too lucky to live in the shanty town. You probably won't get another chance, if you fall in with him. Whatever you do, don't go back where he can find you!"

For once, Orion was making no attempt to hide his fear. The three women had to understand the gravity of the situation, and if having a pale, shaky Elf plead with them would help, he wasn't going to concern himself with trying to look tough. If they could see the damage Snyde had done, the emotional scars that remained even after Orion's body had been healed, maybe they would see how important it was that they save themselves from a similar fate.

Orion's face turned a shade or two paler, though, when he realized how overtly he'd spoken out against Snyde. He took a quick look around, his head darting about like a bird's, half expecting to see one of Snyde's thugs behind him, hands already balled in fists or gripping a club, ready to punish the insubordination. Orion would be made an example of-- he had already earned a reputation for being troublesome, and Snyde wouldn't consider him worth sparing. Snyde never had to worry about running out of whores, as long as there were desperate people starving in the shanty town, whose lives could be threatened until they did whatever Snyde wanted.

There were no thugs here. No clubs. That was in the past. Orion's fear was just memories bleeding over into the present. He needed to stop that, he reminded himself sharply. The last thing he needed was for the people at the compound to decide he was more trouble than he was worth, or for his emotional problems to push the limits of their tolerance. He had to pretend he was alright, or they'd lose patience with him and turn him out of the shelter... and he'd end up dead, or back in the hell Snyde had created for his captive servants. Orion would greatly prefer the death option, which Snyde's thugs knew well-- Orion hadn't been allowed near any sharp objects in years, for fear he'd put himself out of his misery... which Orion wasn't allowed to do, as long as he was bringing the bishani in. Deciding who died was apparently Snyde's sole privilege, and his thugs enforced his will enthusiastically.

Orion turned his gaze to Rosemary, and his voice was wary and tight. "How do we make sure they don't send us back, Missus? We can't go back. Not after we came here. Snyde would say we were all traitors, and... well, the ones he killed outright would have it better. What things would make the people here angry, make them want us to leave? What do we need to do or not do, so they won't change their minds?" He wrapped his arms around himself, an overtly self-protective gesture. "Please, Missus, how do we make sure they let us stay? I never want to go back there."
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Falcon Bertille on

A wave of dismay swept over Rosemary as Orion reacted to her question about being married. She hadn’t meant to upset him. Even knowing that he used to be a prostitute, it honestly hadn’t occurred to her that he might consider himself to be so unworthy of matrimony. But it should have. Hadn’t she experienced the same feelings of self-loathing? And for much the same reason. “You shouldn’t give up,” she urged, her voice both gentle and compassionate. “Sometimes we do things...things that seem terrible and unforgivable to us...” Unconsciously, her hand rose to rest on her belly. “Things that make us believe we’ll always be too tainted to touch. But then we meet someone who can see past all that. And they make feel clean again.”

Tactful silence answered the query regarding Bonnie’s marketability. But Rosemary did nod her agreement when Orion lamented the callousness with which he’d been treated by those who bought him. Like the elf, she found it difficult to imagine how someone could enjoy sex with a partner who wasn’t enthusiastic and healthy -- unfortunately, Snyde’s success proved that too many people felt differently.

Despite being slightly put off by Marjorie’s abrasive manner, Rosemary couldn’t help admiring the elf’s spunk. However, when Marjorie described what men liked done with a sharp tongue, Rosemary’s eyes grew noticeably wider. The coarseness of her fellow refugees had done much to erode Rosemary’s genteel veneer. But the sheer vulgarity of Marjorie’s statement still managed to shock her. And yet, part of Rosemary was also intrigued. She always strove to give Julen the best of everything. If she’d been falling short in the bedroom, she wanted to know. “Do men really like that? To have women use their tongues...down there?” As she spoke the last question, Rosemary glanced over at Orion, appealing to him as the only male representative present. “Really?”

But curiosity turned to sadness after Marjorie revealed what Cindy had been used for. Such a terrible abuse of innocence. Rosemary couldn’t decide if it was better or worse that the white-haired girl was too wrong in the head to comprehend what those men had done to her. And, for the first time, she truly understood the emotions Julen had expressed when describing the horrors he’d seen while raiding Snyde’s brothels -- the tangle of fury, pity, and despair. The knowledge that the world would never look quite so bright ever again.

All those feeling only grew stronger as Orion related Snyde’s methods for keeping people in line. Rosemary bit her lip, trying to keep quiet. This was about the refugees. She had no right to presume that anything she’d suffered matched the misery which they’d endured. But, in the end, she spoke. “I have some idea what Snyde is capable of.” The words sounded flat and stiff as they left her throat, belying the churning emotions which lay beneath them. “Julen opposed him. Not intentionally -- he didn’t even know who Snyde was. But he handed out free bread to the people in the shanty town. He promised them a better life if they came and worked for Karsimir. Snyde didn’t like that.”

Now, the smoothness of Rosemary’s delivery began to crack, allowing ripples of anger and grief to splash over her words. “Snyde lured Julen into an ambush. Once they got him down, his thugs beat my husband within an inch of his life. Then they dumped him in the street to serve as an example to others.”

Almost immediately, Rosemary regretted sharing her story. Orion had obviously worked himself into a panic, and hearing another tale of Snyde’s cruelty was unlikely to calm him down. She didn’t want to patronize the elf by telling him everything was going to be okay. Maybe it wouldn’t be -- you never knew. But she could at least assure him that the compound’s rules were much more benevolent than the ones he’d been living under. “Karsimir always says that when people work together, everyone prospers. That’s what we aim for here. Do everything that you can to help the people who need you and you can stay for as long as you want.”

Rosemary smiled, attempting to lighten the mood. “It’s actually pretty hard to get thrown out of the compound. There’s a group here who seem to be doing their level best to end up back on the streets, but Karsimir still lets them stay. He’s very patient.”

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Grasshoppers on

"No. It is safe here. They won't send us away."

Cindy's voice had the odd ring of assurance to it, a crystal-clear tone combined with assertiveness that did not come naturally. She was still dipping the same corner of bread into her soup, staring at the table with a vague smile. She eventually raised the thoroughly drenched corner to her lips and sucked the excess moisture free before taking a dainty bite. Each movement was slow and deliberate, but she flowed smoothly from one motion to the next. Both Marjorie and Bonnie had paused in their own eating to stare hard at the younger woman. Marjorie's right ear twitched slightly, and she twisted enough to see Bonnie's expression. They met eyes for a brief moment, then tucked in to their meals with renewed vigour.

Cindy's pronouncement caused a blatant rush of relief from both women; their shoulders dropped as tension faded away, and whatever air of suspicion they might have retained before melted away all at once. When Marjorie spoke to answer part of Rosemary's sexually charged question, her tone was far friendlier and more relaxed than before.

"You e'er touched yerself? He ever touched ya? Ya know where - think about it. A tongue doin' th' same thing, but controlled, like - "

Bonnie finished the answer to cut off the elf's somewhat rambling description.

"Yeh. They like it a lot. But ye'ave t' do i' right. Ask'im, 'e'sa one with th' balls 'ere."

She pointed at Orion with her spoon. Cindy, by now, had begun dipping yet another corner into the soup, intent on drenching the bread to beyond satiated before she would allow herself the satisfaction of sucking the small corner dry. It looked as though she intended to finish the entire bowl of soup in this manner, ignoring the actual contents within the broth. Neither of her companions commented, both used to her odd habits and knowing that asking her to eat more would only solicit a creased brow of unfiltered confusion.

Bonnie "hmphed" quietly at Rosemary's story, shaking her head in a significant amount of disgust. Cindy did not appear to be listening, still tapping the same corner of bread into her soup. But Marjorie's large eyes had widened until ready to burst from her skull, and she spoke with a tone bordering on horror.

"But he's fine now? When did this happen? Are you sure he's alright?"

She suddenly looked shy, and her voice cracked with hesitancy. She wasn't certain of speaking the next part, but Cindy's assurance of their safety had soothed her frazzled nerves enough that she thought she might not be in danger. Still, being somewhat vague would leave her the option of claiming it had just been a general offer later.

"I...I could help, a little, if 'e's still 'urtin'...medicine, like..."

Cindy looked up from her soupy bread and smiled at the elf, her eyes cloudy again with distraction. Her silent encouragement soothed Marjorie even more, but she wasn't relaxed just yet. She stared at Rosemary with a tiny measure of fear, waiting to see if the offer would be accepted, causing her to explain herself.

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

Initially, Orion was inclined to dismiss Rosemary's words about marriage as kind platitudes, but empty of significance. She meant well, that was obvious, but what did she know about it? As she went on, though, particularly as she touched her abdomen, he began to take her more seriously. Maybe she did know what she was talking about. Against all appearances, it seemed Rosemary had some darkness in her past, too.

It didn't make him respect her any less. On the contrary, it made him feel more comfortable around her. Up till that point, Orion had felt like Rosemary was surrounded by a delicate shell that he was trying carefully not to break. If there was no shell, if she knew about the bad things as well as the good ones, it meant Orion didn't have to be so cautious. He didn't have to worry about spoiling her view of the world... and that was a relief.

"That's comforting, Rosemary." The first time he'd consciously used her name rather than a title. "Thank you." His eyes thanked her too, not just for the words, but for the understanding. He reached out slightly toward her, prepared to give her hand a comforting squeeze, but he worried that might go too far-- so his hand remained awkwardly half-outstretched, indecisive.

Orion couldn't tell if Rosemary was asking for his personal or professional opinion about men's sexual preferences. Truth be told, though, he didn't really have a personal opinion. Though for years his life had been based around sex, it had always been about giving rather than receiving pleasure. No one cared if the whore got off. While he'd swiftly become adept at satisfying other people-- had to, or face the consequences from Snyde if the customers were disgruntled about his performance-- he really had no idea what he himself liked or disliked in bed, because that had never been the point. For all the thousands of sexual encounters he'd had, when it came to his own preferences, he knew little more than most virgins would. When Majorie once again turned the question to him, though, he felt he had to say something.

"Men always seemed to like it," he said a little noncommittally, not sure if they intended a woman to be a crucial part of the equation. "Asked for it a lot. But if you aren't doing it, I'm sure your man won't mind. It's not hard to tell if a man is liking the sex with you or not. If he seems to be, chances are what you're doing is just fine with him."

He tugged his ear again, looking down. "Can't really speak for myself, though. Wasn't that kind of gig. You should ask Rollick or someone. He'd know better than me about what husbands like." Passing the question off to the warrior might be a little awkward, but pondering that might be more pleasant for the man than thinking about his missing hand. "Or if you wanted, I could tell you how to... like, give you some suggestions you could do for your man."

Orion listened sympathetically to Rosemary's explanation about what had been done to Julen. "Sorry to hear it. That was good of Julen, bringing bread to those people. He didn't deserve what he got." Story of Snyde's life, though, wasn't it? Giving people what they didn't deserve. The look Orion gave Rosemary was one of genuine sorrow for what Julen had suffered. What she said didn't surprise him-- Snyde was no miser with the suffering he inflicted, and Orion was no stranger to being beaten up-- but that didn't make it any easier, for Julen or for Rosemary. Orion wished that Julen's kindness hadn't been rewarded with pain.

"Glad he got through it. Kaydee too, poor girl. It was a relief to hear they were both safe here. I didn't think... I heard about what happened-- not by name about him, just that it was some warrior with Kaydee-- and I didn't hold out much hope for either of them. Glad I was proven wrong." Then, emboldened, "Glad that for once Snyde didn't get his way, what with them living."

Rosemary's words about the unlikelihood of getting kicked out were reassuring. "I can work hard. Just say the word. Don't really know how to do much, but if you tell me what to do, I'll do it. Whatever people ask, except..."

Except he didn't want to be their whore, either. Even if they were nicer than Snyde. He was so tired of it, tired of having nothing that was his own, having even his very body belong to others. Though he didn't think they'd hurt him as Snyde had done, he still didn't want any more of it.

But to say so seemed ungrateful. He'd been here less than two days, and it could not appear he was already causing trouble. Talking back, being disobedient, acting like he was the one who set the conditions. That would be like what Rosemary said of the others, doing his best to end up back on the streets. Orion wasn't going to start any arguments. He'd wait and see what they asked of him once the warriors were back, and if it was unbearable, there were other ways out. These people didn't know to hide the sharp things from him; it would be over in moments if it came to that.

He would talk to the other whores, the ones who'd been here longer, and see how it really was. Everyone in charge said it was better here. That no one got exploited. But what else would anyone want with this many whores? Orion couldn't think of any explanation that didn't involve mass sexual gratification. It was something he'd need to try to figure out.

In the meantime, best to just... not stir things up. "Never mind. Whatever they ask."

He hoped Cindy was right in her assurance that no one would be forced to leave. It certainly seemed to reassure her comrades, but Orion couldn't see how she would know for sure. Pleasant as it was, it couldn't be more than a guess.

When Majorie offered to help Julen, to give him medicine, Orion kept silent. He would have been very, very surprised if Uluki hadn't already healed the warrior. But there was also no way in hell he would say anything that might lead to the fairy coming to harm. No talk of magic in front of strangers. Orion would die for his new friends, for Uluki and Rosemary and Rollick. He would never give Uluki's secret away. Unsure how to avoid incriminating her, he left it to Rosemary to find a suitable answer to the question.
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Falcon Bertille on

Moved by Orion’s half-completed gesture, Rosemary reached out and gave his hand a gentle squeeze before letting it go. She didn’t expect to wipe away all his doubts -- not after everything he’d suffered. But she hoped, in time, he would find someone who could help him overcome them. Just as she had.

Rosemary’s eyelids lowered slightly as she considered the words spoken by Marjorie. Touching? Yes, there had definitely been touching, although most of it was more incidental than deliberate -- the trailing edge of a more sweeping caress rather than any focused effort to stimulate specific regions. Truthfully, Rosemary found Julen’s fingers a little rough when they touched her down there. But maybe a tongue? The idea definitely had potential. Without conscious guidance, Rosemary’s fingers began to slip down from her belly, until Orion’s voice jolted her from her reverie. Blushing, she allowed both hands to drop to her sides.

“Oh, Julen likes the sex plenty,” Rosemary assured Orion. She felt quite sure about this, and it was a point of pride for her. “But if there’s more I could be doing, stuff he might like even better, then I want to give that to him.” Rosemary wanted to give Julen the best of everything. And of course, there was the matter Kaydee, always trailing around after Julen like a lovesick puppy. She was a former prostitute -– she probably knew exactly what to do with her tongue. Not that Julen would ever give her a chance to get so far. But still, Rosemary resolved, it wouldn’t do to let Kaydee maintain such a clear advantage.

Rosemary didn’t want to hurt Orion’s feelings by dismissing his suggestion that she should interrogate Rollick for further details. Unfortunately, her gut resisted the idea. Uluki didn’t seem like a jealous woman. Indeed, she was quite the opposite, as demonstrated by her mirthful reaction when she found Rollick alone with a naked woman. But still. It didn’t seem right to approach another woman’s husband and ask him what he liked in bed. “I think...I think I’d rather talk about it with you, if you don’t mind. Not right now, of course. Later. When you have some free time.”

Glad that for once Snyde didn't get his way, what with them living. Rosemary nodded her heartfelt agreement to that statement. It was only recently that she’d learned just how close to getting his way Snyde had really come. “Uluki rescued them -- both Julen and Kaydee. She led the warriors when they searched the shanty town. She brought them back alive.” Tugging at a strand of her hair, Rosemary stared at the floor. It was still a heavy thing to carry. Her husband had lain dying in the street, and she hadn’t been able to do a damn thing for him. “I wanted to go too. But they said I’d just be in the way.”

As if compensating for that past moment of helplessness, Rosemary suddenly sprung into action. Crossing over to a water barrel, she ladled some of its contents into three mugs, which she brought back to the recent arrivals. “Here. You must be thirsty as well as hungry. I’m sorry that didn’t occur to me earlier.”

Orion still appeared rather unsure about what would be expected of him at the compound. Hoping to ease any concerns he might have, Rosemary steered him toward further guidelines. “Karsimir gives sermons which instruct us how to behave toward each other. He calls them the Teachings of Angels. So far, he’s covered Humility, Courage, and Altruism.”

“Unfortunately, Karsimir isn’t here right now. But another of the refugees, Tulip, has written down all his speeches. I’m sure she’d be happy to share them with you.” Rosemary smiled, trying to show that she wasn’t above the need of occasional guidance herself. “I’ve found his words to be very useful. They gave me the wisdom to heal a rift that had begun to form in my marriage.”

Marjorie’s offer to help Julen truly touched Rosemary. It was good to see the elf getting into the spirit of things. Rosemary had already come to think of the trio as her special charges, and she wanted them to fit in well at Lightsword Hall. Marjorie’s willingness to aid a man she’d never met indicated that they would. However, Rosemary also realized that she’d come perilously close to revealing Uluki’s secret. Not that the fairy’s ability to heal wasn’t guessed at by most people staying in the compound. But that was still no reason to go blurting it out. “He’s fine now, thank you. This happened a while ago.” That was vague enough to imply an appropriate recovery time while still being true. “He’s off with Karsimir, actually. In Shim. But I really do appreciate you volunteering to help him.”

Re: To Catch The Fly

Post by Grasshoppers on


Marjorie's response to Rosemary's thankfulness was noncommittal at best, though naked relief showed in her expression. She hadn't wanted to explain herself beyond the offer, and Rosemary hadn't asked. Things were looking up; if this was the type of place where a person didn't need to justify their every move, then they might've just found an actual safe haven.

She was still suspicious; when leadership took it upon themselves to repeat ad nauseum that things were such-and-such way, it normally meant things were the exact opposite. The people they'd seen were happy enough, but if the leadership demanded them to act this way to clear up any doubts, she was determined not to be surprised. They could preach their flowers and sunshine philosophy from dawn until dusk, but flowers wilted and the sun eventually set on the horizon.

Still, Cindy had said the place was safe, and that judgment was to be taken in stride. If Cindy started babbling about fantasies surrounding them or jewels that were really rocks or however else she would express something was wrong, the elf would make damn sure to get them out of this place with all speed.

Cindy took the water offered in one hand, busy dipping her bread into the soup with the other. Caught in between food and beverage, she turned her dazed eyes to Orion and gave him a lilting smile. The corners of her lips tilted upwards just enough to begin a happy expression, but her eyes remained distant. She searched his face for the eyes she wanted to meet, and took longer than most to find them. Once found, she met them with a slow blink, clearing away a small amount of her personal distance before her voice broke the silence.

"Don't worry, brother elf. We are all just the same..."

Bonnie paused in her eating to give the younger woman a hard glare, then shook her head and continued right on, using the water to help the soup and bread down. Cindy seemed determined to claim Orion as family one way or another, and even if the idea was ludicrous, it was a promising sign that she could maintain the idea at all. Improvements were welcome in the young girl's airy demeanor, and neither Marjorie nor Bonnie were inclined to encourage her to stop trying. Even if it made Marjorie blush red up to the tips of her ears.


Return to Industrial District