Something Lingers

The farms and houses of Shim, a single inn known as the Red Chalice, and an old manor on a hill overlooking it all to the north.
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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:01 pm

As soon as Monk had left, Alyson rose from the couch and slowly walked around the room, her eyes flitting from one intruiging item to the next. The painting of Shim held her gaze for several minutes, as Alyson wondered what it would be like to stand on a balcony and see the view in person. The weapons she avoided - but it was the books that drew her like a moth to a flame. With a tentative reach she brushed her fingers along each spine.

Glancing towards the doorway Alyson paused for a moment, and once satisfied that she was still alone she slipped one of the books from the shelf. Upon opening the book, however, she was disappointed to find the contents in a language she could not comprehend. With a sigh Alyson returned the book to its place, overwhelmed by a sense of longing she did not understand.

The artifacts were mostly things Alyson did not recognize, but they were still interesting to look at, so she filled the rest of her time examining the artifacts more closely and trying to imagine their purpose.

When Monk returned, Alyson again took a seat on the sofa. The meats and cheeses looked tempting, but the sight of the cup sparked a sense of thirst - and Alyson remembered that it had been a long walk to the manor without stopping for a drink.

As she reached for the glass Monk spoke, "You could learn a lot about your people in this room."

Alyson tilted her head questioningly at Monk's statement, and she turned looking around the room again. "My people..." she breathed quietly before turning back to the older man. Her eyes narrowed slightly, "If you mean the people of Shim... they are NOT my people," she responded bitterly.

Refusing to elaborate, Alyson picked up the glass and brought it to her lips. There, she paused, a confusing rush of feeling that seemed full of warning... but as quickly as it came the feeling was dismissed and Alyson took a full mouthful of the liquid. Immediately she felt its warmth travel down her throat and settle in her belly. It was a pleasing sensation, and she took another sip, this time savoring the unusual flavor for a moment before swallowing.

"This... is like nothing I have ever tasted before," Alyson commented, her smile returning. She reached for a piece of cheese, taking a small bite then another drink from her cup.

Alyson tried to think of something to say to Monk, questions she wanted to ask... but for some reason she could not get her thoughts to focus. The harder she tried to think, the more elusive her ideas became. Suddenly, Alyson stifled a yawn, blinking in surprise. She looked up at the dark-colored windows, wondering how long she had been in the Manor, surely it was too early for her to feel tired. "Wha...time is now?" she struggled to ask. She tried to set the cup back on the tray gently, but it clanged loudly as she misjudged the distance. "I...I'm sorry," she apologized, shaking her head in an attempt to clear her mind. Alyson rubbed her eyes, then looked questioningly at Monk. "Wha's happenin' ta me? So sleepy...did you?" she could not finish the question, finding increasingly hard to speak - it was as if her mouth refused to form the words it had once known. She did not even know what she was accusing Monk of - as her ability to reason failed as well.

Leaning back into the sofa, Alyson slid to the side until her head lay on the armrest. "Jus'... needa few sleeps..." Unable to fight any longer, Alyson submitted to the unknown drug - passing into a deep dreamless sleep.

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:55 am

If you mean the people of Shim... they are NOT my people.

"Of course they are. Them and the captain who rescued you."

Monk didn't want to press the matter any further. It wasn't his place to handle Alyson's broken sense of self. If anyone was suited for that task, it was Bela. For better or worse, the vampire always wanted matters of this nature handled a certain way.

This... is like nothing I have ever tasted before.

That charming smile of his brightened his face once again, showing the gap where one of his teeth was missing. He looked genuinely happy to be able to do something for her, like a grandfather giving his granddaughter a gift. He just wanted to be loved and appreciated, and to have a little company.

"Most people around here don't get drinks like this unless they work for the government. Veeeery expensive. Shipped in straight from Darleone island since only the elves can make it."

The drugs began to take effect. Good.

"You're just tired, girl. Have a nap. Bela will be here when you wake up," he told her softly, waiting for her eyes to close.

* * *

"Alyson Rolfe came searching for you today."

"Mmm. Sooner than I expected."

"The girl is naive. She has no idea. I have her unconscious upstairs. I wasn't sure what you wanted to do with her."

"You weren't sure."

"She will resent you for killing her parents. Killing her would solve the problem."

"You know better."

"Yes, of course, master."

* * *

Waking up was always a chore. It took him an hour to make it to her room after being awoken by the gardener. Belatucadrus didn't want to deal with her while his mind was still half buried in slumber. If he could avoid killing her, avoid making her into a problem, he would try. She was only one out of a hundred Shimians, and thousands of Marnians, but he knew that individuals mattered. One individual could channel all the rest.

Lying to her was a tactless solution. A messy way out for someone with no talent. As was killing her. If he had ever planned to kill her, he would have done so years ago.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Bela was patient to an inhuman degree. He sat in a chair across from her, legs crossed right over left, arms folded in his lap, and watched her sleep. This was something he could do for days on end, if not for the interruption of the sun. He didn't move, blinked only rarely, and thought about nothing in particular. After so many centuries, the vampire simply couldn't get bored. There was no physical need to move about.

She looked much as he expected her to. A combination of her parents features, morphed from the image of a little girl he once saw. The gardener said she was naive. That wouldn't last forever. Not with her life.

It was nearly 2 in the morning when she showed signs of waking up.

"Good morning, Alyson."

He didn't smile. There was nothing fake about his demeanor. He remained entirely neutral.
There are no allies, and there are no friends.
There are only tools and liabilities.

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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:47 pm

Awakening from the drugged sleep was a slow process, beginning with the awareness of a presence nearby that was deep... dark... like looking into the depths of an endless pit. Alyson did not feel fear, simply a neutral, vague consciousness that she was not alone.

Before her mind was truely awake Alyson's body stirred, shifting from her prone position on the sofa to sit upright, and then reaching for her neck to massage away the stiffness that had developed there. Opening her eyes slowly, Alyson blinked at the darkness of the room. Shouldn't there be light coming in those windows? What time is it anyway? What was I doing? Why was I asleep? The questions tumbled through her lethargic brain as she struggled to remember...

Then a voice spoke.

"Good morning, Alyson."

Alyson turned sharply, her eyes meeting those of the man sitting in the chair opposite her resting place. She instantly knew that she was seeing the One she had come to find, and all the meaningless questions her mind had raised were dismissed as her memory of the previous evening returned.

Belatucadrus - or Bela as Monk had called him. He seemed at once intimidating and yet alluring, non-threatening and yet terrifying. She did not recognize him as a person involved in her past... her memory, at least for now, remained locked in the prison of her mind. Perhaps it was fortunate that Alyson knew so little about him, or she would not have found the courage to speak.

Alyson rose from her seat, clasping her hands and daring to continue to meet Bela's unwavering, neutral gaze. Perhaps she should have curtsied... perhaps she should have begun with platitudes of greeting and respect... but her ignorance of social graces led her to instead speak directly to her task.

"I came... because you are the only one who can tell me the truth... the only one who knows who I am."

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:42 pm

"Straight to the point I see." He continued to stare at her. He didn't demand platitudes or humility from her. Not yet, anyway. "I suppose that's understandable. Your life must be quite tumultuous with Tomas gone... Of course you're right, Alyson. I am the one to come to for the truth.

"I knew your parents, as I knew you when you were younger. The Shimians knew them as well. But this is a delicate issue. They decided it was best to keep the truth from you until you were ready to know. I suspected Tomas would tell you himself eventually, but he preferred to keep you as a slave. For that I apologize. I was the one who put you in his care. It was a flawed decision."

Bela continued watching her as he spoke, dignifying himself with the air of a king. His expert physical grooming was complimented by his unsurpassed ability to speak like a diplomat. He was frank, but eloquent, and not a hint of emotion was present to undercut the literal meaning of his words. If he was a liar, or the honest creature he professed to be, was something that couldn't be gleaned by talking to him. He certainly looked comfortable talking about a subject so 'delicate'.

"Part of the issue, Alyson, is the balance between telling you the truth to put that side of you at ease, and upsetting you with events nobody can change. When you were young, you would not have understood. Now that you can understand, you are also capable of harboring a great deal of hatred toward the people of Shim, and toward me."
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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:29 pm

So much information... and yet little understanding. Alyson's mind was drowning in the turmoil of an internal battle between her adult self that demanded answers, and the fearful child that refused to let down the barriers that hid a painful, and perhaps dark, past.

Backing towards the sofa, Alyson again took a seat as she struggled to respond to the man before her. Her immediate anger at finding that Belatucadrus was the one who had placed her with Tomas abated with his admission of wrong-doing - even though it lacked any hint of apology. It was merely fact, and there was nothing to do but accept it as such. Anger over Tomas' treatment of her was futile. He was now dead, and she had no desire to waste anymore of her life considering him.

It was the truth about her parent's that concerned Alyson now. Monk had told her they were dead - and Belatucadrus was the only one who could tell her why. He was hesitating... because she might hate him and the people of Shim? She might hate him anyway - if he dared to withhold his knowledge. However, even Alyson was wise enough to keep such pointless arguments to herself.

"You... Somehow you are - were - involved in my parent's death." It was a statement, really, not a question. Saying the words made them more real - perhaps easier to accept. Alyson's eyes rose to meet Bela's. She paused for a moment, as if trying to weigh the man before her, to try to understand something that was beyond comprehension. "I cannot promise not to hate you. I cannot control how I will feel when I know the truth, but, I NEED to know. I do not know how to go on with my life until I can somehow justify my past. For some reason I can't remember..." her voiced dropped to a whisper, "Please... tell me."

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:07 pm

The vampire continued to sit and stare at her like an abandoned mannequin. Where a living person would have let out a sigh, or shifted to a more comfortable seating position during such a difficult discussion, he just sat in place like a stone figurine with excellent posture.

His way of being so bereft of emotion was an emotion unto itself. It lent weight to everything he said. He certainly wasn't happy about events.

"They have stories about me down there in Shim. The monster who only comes out at night to steal naughty children, or do to Tomas what I did. I should be ashamed to admit the accuracy of their tales, but the majority of it is well deserved. I watch that town with great care, and I know everyone in it. Often with more intimacy than they would believe.

"The Oltuk family asked about you around town on several occasions when you were younger, concerned that Tomas was unfit as a father. They were friends with your parents, and never able to have children of their own. Selina Oltuk passed away two years ago of a terrible flu that couldn't be cured without magic. In retrospect, she was right about Tomas and I should have been more receptive of her concerns. With her gone, her husband Hemmir had other things on his mind, but I am sure they were watching you. I suppose you didn't know them well, but they knew you. I brought her here when she was half your age, along with her father, from the shores near Darleone.

"I know about her activities, and about Tomas'... misbehavior... because I have spies throughout town. Whenever anything of significance happens, it is reported to me... along with a great deal of insignificant things as well. What a serpent I must seem, hiding in my manor, extending tendrils throughout the town so that I can keep watch on everyone.

"I hope my reasons justify my methods. You see, Shim rests on a mountain of decaying magic left over from the Changers' War. There is enough here to destroy everything you know if it is tampered with incorrectly. With the town built on top of it, it's safe from foreign meddlers because I can be here to protect it from them. Unfortunately it's not only outsiders that meddle. Sometimes even the Shimians get ideas in their heads about the promises of power. Eight years ago I found out that a group of them had organized to dig in the cemetery, and that they had gone so far as to try and specifically hide this from me. When I found out, I was furious. I had been betrayed by a corruption in my own people, and I had no idea how far it had spread.

"When I'm in such a state, Alyson, I'm a monster. I came to Shim that night and killed every one of them. In my rage I lacked judgment, and I attacked everyone who was with them as well. Your parents were with them. You were with them."
There are no allies, and there are no friends.
There are only tools and liabilities.

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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:40 pm

Alyson's eyes locked with the man before her - but she no longer saw his face - nor anything else in the room. Like the breaking of a dam, waves of memories crashed over her, leaving her mind reeling. A mother, sweet and tender; a father, warm and caring; a horror so terrifying it was no wonder her mind had rebelled at its reappearance.

She was in another place now... and another time. Reliving the moments leading up to when she first met the one she now knew was Belatucadrus - lord of the manor.

It was late – the sun having set hours earlier – but her father refused to stop and make camp, neither would he seek refuge among their friends in the nearby farms they passed on the outskirts of Shim. He did not want to disturb their slumber, knowing well the early morning would come all too soon for the work-weary farmers. No, he had insisted, they would make it to the Red Chalice tonight, where the innkeeper was well-used to the occasional traveler arriving at odd hours.

They had journeyed far today, hoping to reach their home village so that tomorrow they could begin to ply the wares they had recently acquired in Keltaris.

Alyson had dozed in her seat behind her parents in the merchant’s cart, struggling half-heartedly to stay awake. These last few miles were familiar ones, and hardly worth her attention…

Then an ungodly shriek rang out, followed by more – voices filled with terror. Her father moved to urge the horses forward, but her mother placed a hand on his arm, her eyes pleading, “No – we must not go Mathan,” she begged, “It is…evil…”

Another shriek was heard, and Mathan shook his head. “I’m sorry Annalyn,” he responded using his pet name for his wife, “but someone is in trouble, we MUST help if we can. Your ‘feelings’ again… you must learn to trust me and not them!” With that he whipped the horses, causing them to leap forward and jostling Alyson to full awareness. Her father noticed only enough to order her to lie still.

They were only a few meters from the cemetery, where the calls for help had originated. Mathan had lost all sense of caution in his desire to help, and all to soon they found themselves in the middle of a sight more horrific than any they had ever dared to imagine.

Alyson heard her father leap from the cart, shouting... her mother whispered, “fates preserve us…” before she too left the cart. What the young girl heard, beyond the screeching, yelling tumultuous voices, she could not understand. The horses reared, breaking free from the cart and disappearing into the shadows. She was too afraid to move, until she heard her mother’s voice pierce the night – a high-pitched scream that spoke of unimaginable dread… and then there was silence.

Cold, impenetrable, impatient silence.

Forcing herself to move, Alyson lifted her head above the seat of the cart. Her eyes widened as the light of the full moon revealed a horrific scene. Bodies torn, mangled beyond recognition… blood everywhere… her mother, pale, her throat ripped open… her father, broken with a motionless stare.

She gasped aloud, horror-struck by the carnage, unable to grasp her own danger. Then movement… a dark shadow rose from a mutilated corpse, its seemingly red eyes locking with her own. Alyson was unable to scream, unable to move, as the being approached with slow, calculated steps. When he reached her, he opened his mouth as if to speak…

Then everything went black…



Overwhelmed with emotion – fear, revulsion, loathing, understanding, and dread – Alyson turned away from Bela, and retched over the edge of his sofa.

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:08 am

With the indifference of a doctor who had dipped his own hands into bloody, putrid messes a dozen times worse than anything Alyson's body could muster, he let her wretch her stomach out on his manor floor all she wanted. As much as he understood her reaction, and even anticipated it, he could not relate to it.

People - especially females, he found - could become so attached to things, other people, and even intangibles like ideals and fleeting memories, that their bodies revolted against them. Most people did everything in their power to avoid such an experience, including self sacrifice and denial of reality. He understood this, because it was the best tool of manipulation in his arsenal.

He considered himself fortunate to lack the weakness, even if it meant a lack of the accompanying drive.

Likely she was angry as well - at least in part. Angry with him and what she must perceive, somewhere in her mind, as betrayal. Those were things he did understand. Even a narcissistic psychopath of the highest order could understand anger and betrayal.

He also knew from experience that he should feel a spot of guilt and revulsion with himself for what he had brought upon her. He didn't. Not in the least. She was just another name, another face, that would turn to dust long before he did. Many people who were considered cold blooded and ruthless had ways of rationalizing their treatment of others, but not Bela. For him the feeling wasn't there, and that was the end of it. Citizens like Alyson were lucky that his strategy was to pretend he did have morality.

Once she had had ample time to finish, he spoke again. "I know how you feel, Alyson. You were there. You do remember. I saw your eyes. I have done something so unspeakable that it should never have been a part of your reality. But here you are, and there's no more room for denial. Nothing I do could possibly fix you."
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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:27 pm

Still shaking slightly from the horror she had remembered and her body’s subsequent reaction to the memory, Alyson had turned back towards Belatucadrus as he spoke again. She lifted a cloth napkin that had been left on the small table with the refreshments the old gardener had brought and used it to wipe her mouth slowly. Glancing at the ornate cup she had imbibed from earlier Alyson quickly dismissed the urge to drink and rinse her mouth of the foul taste in it – she had no desire to be drugged to sleep again.

”Nothing I do could possibly fix you.”

Those words immediately grabbed Alyson’s attention, and her mouth opened slightly in surprise. She realized, in that moment, that she had somehow hoped that the lord of the manor would be able to exactly that. That here she would find a mysterious benefactor who would restore her to her rightful place in the world – solving the mystery of her past and replacing her fears with hope… but while he had stimulated her mind to reveal the dark secrets it held, he offered no help or hope.

She was not his problem anymore.

Looking upwards, as if seeking a glimpse of the angels who lived only in her memory now, Alyson whispered, “Whatever may happen now… at least I know once I was loved…” Such feelings were likely to be scored by a man as powerful as the one before her, but to Alyson that knowledge was something to hold on to – something that might guide her to whatever the future might bring.

Alyson’s eyes narrowed slightly as she returned her attention to Bela, though her voice held no malice – yet – just a trace of bitterness. “I suppose I should be grateful,” she began slowly, “that you chose to spare my life that day, when it was certainly in your power to take it.” She paused, as if weighing her words. “And though you placed me in Tomas care – it was not you who wielded the whip to beat me… and now he is dead… by your hand…”

She paused again, biting her lower lip until it was tinged with the brightness of fresh blood and her eyes flashed with an inner fire. “You cannot fix me – but what have you left me fit for? Do I remain in Shim? You know I will never be accepted here. Not now… because of my connection to you. So where would I go? To Keltaris or some other place my father took me as a child? Where I know no one and even less of how to survive on my own? Then to Marn? Where I would be just another penniless waif begging for mercy? Do I trust the elf-woman Metarie and her offer of help? Or would her guard-man haul me away as the beggar I will have become?” Her mind was racing as words spilled out of her mouth in a torrent. Her words were filled with the passion of a mind long-oppressed that has no idea what to do with its freedom.

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:40 am

"As long as you remain near me, I can ensure that the guard and justice hall cause you no significant harm."

While locking eyes with her, the gravity of what he was in the process of offering her settled in like the weight of a thousand leagues of sea water. She was dealing with the most powerful thing for miles around.

"You are not a slave girl, nor are you just another Shimian. You are an individual whom I have taken responsibility for. I have wronged you and your family name, and in exchange for this transgression I offer you my protection and my favor."

Like a diplomat or a lawyer, he calculated his words with precision. There was not smudge of comforting bullshit to be found in them. Only gravity.

"I will not replace your father and guide you through your life. The limitations of my repayment to you are employment and protection. It's up to you to accept your situation for what it is, and do with it what you see fit.
Men have sacrificed their lives to ingratiate themselves with me and earn my trust. I am giving this to you. Don't let your emotions cloud the meaning of this. Don't misinterpret my apology as an opportunity to take revenge upon me or a sign of weakness on my part.
You have the freedom to take advantage of your situation, or kill yourself. Do you understand?"

He was pleased with her thus far. She had come to him, hadn't thrown a rage, and spoke with enough intelligence to show him that she wasn't just another peasant. Now he wanted to see if she could grasp an opportunity through the fog of her emotions.
There are no allies, and there are no friends.
There are only tools and liabilities.

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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:41 pm

The calm, even tones of Belatucadrus' voice cut like a knife through the myriad of emotions flooding through Alyson's mind and demanded she pay attention. His offer - it was more than enticing. After all, what else was she to do? It was also clear that this man had power beyond anything she had ever seen - if even the guard and law of Marn acquiesced to his authority. The thought of such power was... alluring.

But her heart rebelled. She should HATE this man. He killed... he MURDERED her parents - in cold blood. He had slaughtered them without a moment's hesitation, and had left her without family or friend in the world. To even consider accepting employment with Belatucadrus was unconscionable... or was it?

He admitted it was wrong, what had happened to her family... and had no other way of making amends. After all - it was not as though he could bring them back. She would not slave under another low master, or live by fear of the unknown. This time, she had a choice. This time, she would choose her own destiny.

Alyson's focus returned to Belatucadrus' firm gaze, and he knew her answer.

She nodded briefly. "I... I accept your offer," she replied, her face pale and her voice devoid of the emotion she had shown earlier.

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Belatucadrus
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:34 am

( holy fuck a whole month, wtf I'm sorry, I didn't see you posted. I am fail).

Bela could never be so sure of other people's thoughts and actions as to expel all doubt about what they would do. In Alyson's case, there was always plenty of doubt. She might do anything from explode into a physical frenzy, to agree to work for him, to attempt to get revenge on him somehow.

It was this latter course that he expected her to take. Partially because he didn't know her well, and because it's what he would have done. All the olive branches in the world wouldn't undo the past and give her her life back.

Yet she showed no signs of it. She was lost; a stray arrow. No friends or family, no purpose in life.

The stranded and confused made the best recruits. As he studied her physical demeanor, carefully analyzing it along with what he knew of her situation for signs of her true intentions, he found that he believed her. If she was going to betray him for revenge, it wasn't on her mind then and there.

Of course, Bela knew that the most logical course of action all along was to kill her and remove all doubt from the equation. It's what he would have recommended to anyone else. Unfortunately the code by which he lived his life dictated otherwise. He didn't feel remorse or empathy for her, but he could act as though he did. Ethics filled the void that emotions left behind. And his code of ethics was all that he had left of his humanity.

"If I had more that I could offer you of myself in terms of emotions, Alyson, I would."

He rose from his seat and walked to a counter on which several of his ornamental, magical knick-knacks were kept and slid the top drawer open. From there he withdrew one of several rawhide pouches. It made a light clattering sound from the inside when he lifted it. It was full of bishani.

"You will need residence and food. It would not do you well to remain here with me. Get back outside, find some people. Go to Marn. I will send one of my men to watch over you. You will need to think, and it should not be here."

He held out the pouch of money and stared at her. It had to be at least 20 coins, and was in fact worth over 100 bishani.

"I have no requests of you. When you want to speak again, you are welcome back."

On cue like clockwork, one of his maids showed up behind him, near the exit. Keeping her eyes to the ground and her mouth shut, she was barely there. Like all of them, she was equally beautiful and obedient, waiting on her master's fancy.
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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:54 pm

Alyson silently accepted the bag of money from Belatucadrus. She could not speak, her mind spinning with unasked questions. As he had mentioned employment and protection in his offer, she had expected him to give her some task or duty to perform. Instead, she was given money and very little direction other than a suggestion to go to Marn.

She allowed herself to be led by the vacant-looking maid back to the front door of the manor. Walking past the thick wooden doors Alyson blinked as the bright sun glared down at her eyes that had become accustomed to darkness. The warm sun indicated that it was around noon. Of what day? Alyson wondered to herself. She had lost all sense of time inside Bela’s home. The doors shut heavily behind her, and Alyson was alone.

Alyson felt more than a little lost… she was uncertain… and yet she knew she did not deserve to expect any more from Bela. He had told her that he would not take a father’s place and guide her future. That was to be her decision. Realizing that was overwhelming for the young woman.

The bag she held contained more money than she had ever seen in her life. It promised freedom and security, of sorts, in that she would not have to hurry to find occupation in Marn, nor would she have to find a room in the seedier parts of town. She took a breath and began to retrace her steps along the path that led through the gardens towards Shim, pausing only a moment to retrieve her small sack of belongings from the tree where it had been hidden.

With each step Alyson felt as if a weight was being lifted from her shoulders. She could not explain the oppressive “sense” that seemed to surround the manor. It was more than just a feeling caused by the impressive architecture, beautiful furnishings or repressive darkness within. She had felt something like it before… when she had met the elf-woman Metarie and the girl Aramyllis. It was something different and unfamiliar that she could not put her finger on. Biting her lower lip, Alyson wondered if she should be worried – if it was her that was different – but as she neared Marn other, more pressing thoughts intervened and demanded that she put aside such worries for another time.

As she had reached the edge of Bela’s grounds, Alyson had quickly decided not to return to the Dae farm. There was too much that would be difficult to explain… and right now the last thing Alyson wanted was to remain in Shim – there were too many painful memories now that she remembered the details of her parent’s death. Besides, if she wanted to reach Marn and find a place to stay before nightfall she would have to hurry.

No one paid any attention to the waif-like young woman as she walked through the city gates. She was only one of many such travelers – and far beneath the attention of any guards looking for trouble-makers. Making her way along Main Street towards downtown, Alyson’s eyes widened. Marn was larger and busier than she could have imagined. She quickly past by busy taverns and rough-looking inns, avoiding drunken patrons that stumbled out their doors. Her search continued until she found a large four-story inn that had a more stately appearance. The person behind the desk gave her a questioning look until Alyson flashed some bishani, after which she was treated with the respect due a more affluent client.

She was shown a comfortable and beautifully appointed room on the second floor, but Alyson did not linger there for long. It had quickly become apparent that the dress Aramyllis had given her, which had seemed so beautiful compared to her tattered homespun she had worn working for Toman, marked her immediately as a “country-girl” from Shim. Tucking her key into a small pocket in her dress, Alyson left the inn and returned to Main Street. It did not take her long to find a dress shop, where the proprietress quickly took the simple-looking girl under her wing. She helped Alyson choose a forest green dress that was neither too daring nor too simple. It would allow Alyson to blend in – and give her some credibility should she decide to look for employment somewhere in the nicer parts of town. Under the hands of the skilled seamstress a ready-made dress was easily altered to fit the young woman.

After a delicious meal in the inn’s dining room Alyson laid down to sleep feeling like she had accomplished much in one day, and was looking forward to seeking out her rescuers on the morrow – the guard Camulous Smithson and the elf-woman Metarie. At some point too she should expect a man to find her, a protector from Belatucadrus.

But that night the nightmares returned…. Nightmares far worse than the vague images she had dreamt while serving Tomas’…

Screams of pain… fear… and anguish filled the night. Darkness – Alyson could not see anything. “Stay hidden,” her father’s voice, stern and confident. “Fates preserve us,” her mother’s last words. Then images, vivid in color, graphic… death. A crimson line across her mother’s pale white throat. Bodies mangled beyond recognition. Eyes, red with anger…

Sitting up sharply, gasping for breath, Alyson awoke. Her body was covered in a cold sweat, and she quickly turned on a light in an attempt to banish the darkness from the room. Her cheek was sore to the touch – and Alyson remembered the bag of money she had hidden under her pillow the night before. Pulling it out, she stared at the bishani she had accepted so willingly the day before.

What had she done? Her parents were dead… and she was sitting in a room paid for by the man who had killed them… Did they mean so little to her that she could accept money as reparations for their murder? Had she actually agreed to be in the employ of the man who had taken away everyone who had loved her?

Alyson felt ill… but what other choice did she have? Without Belatucadrus’ favor she would be without protection, without money, without options. Wrapping her arms tightly around herself Alyson wept. She wondered – had the first choice she made as a free person been to enslave herself to a monster?

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Belatucadrus
Lord
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Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 4:25 am
Name: Belatucadrus
Race: vampire

Re: Something Lingers

Post by Belatucadrus » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:55 pm

Spring, 122 PW

Once Alyson was gone, the vampire closed his eyes and struggled with the overwhelming urge to sleep. Being awake during the day was something he hadn't done since his early days of struggling with experiments to allow himself to survive in sunlight.
In those days he did it often. The resulting full-body suit and tinted goggles was his only success. All the wasted lotions and potions resulted in nothing but painful burns and one type of magical amphetamine that actually worked for him.

He had to go downstairs, but first he had to assign someone to her. In a sense he was making her another gift - someone to protect her and let everyone she encountered in Marn know that she was untouchable. It was only a fortunate side effect that it also gave him means to spy on her in case she decided to seek revenge.

Once he had enough energy to move again, he went to his scrying room to contact the most appropriate person for the job. He knew just who this was.

* * *

Trailing Alyson after she had already entered Marn was not an easy task. Willow was one of Belatucadru's best trackers, though his talents which he gained through his shape-shifting abilities worked best in the woods rather than a city like Marn. In the city it came down to investigation and persistence, neither of which he particularly enjoyed.

He began by questioning the guards at the northeastern gate on the road to Shim. They knew who he was - his dark skin and rounded eastern accent made distinguished him from the more common, pale skinned Marnian - and they feared his master enough to treat Willow as though he was a battlemage.

They had seen the girl on her way into Marn and pointed him in the right direction. From there it was a matter of questioning every guard and inn keeper he found in an attempt to trace her route. By the time he found the inn at which she was staying, she had already returned from her shopping trip, eaten, and was back in her room. He got a room of his own and was awake before sunrise to wait for her outside her door.
There are no allies, and there are no friends.
There are only tools and liabilities.

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Alyson Rolfe
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Name: Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Something Lingers

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:28 pm


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