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Hayll has sought a suitable Queen to rule for years, but the one it has chosen has become the pawn of a manipulative Prince plotting genocide. While slaves fight for their lives in the Coliseum, Nero Augustus, Consul of Hayll, plunges the Territory towards war safely behind his puppet Queen.
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Author Topic: The Refracted Lives We Lead  (Read 564 times)

Description: Attn: Shadya

Offline Cassius Decius

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The Refracted Lives We Lead
« on: Sep 24, 18, 02:30:08 PM »
TW: Reference to self-harm and rape

See my lonely life unfold
I see it every day
See my lonely mind explode
Since I've gone away


Cassius took out a small piece of cloth and pressed it to his nose. He took a breath and the shards of his broken chalice shuddered, drifted, as he stared at the wall blankly. This was something important. He would not let anyone take it from him. His Jewels he had given up easily, without a word, but this he would fight for. He had already sunk his teeth into the guard that had come too near the scrap of cloth. He had tasted blood and pulled away, sinking to the floor and expecting some kind of pain. But it had not come. And he still had the cloth.

I think I lost some weight there
And I, I'm sure I need some rest
Sleeping don't come very easy
In a straight white vest


The guard pried the sharp stone out of Cassius’ hand. He had seen the look in the male’s eyes, the desire to plow it across his wrist, to end the whispering voices in his head. They pulled him deeper and deeper into the Shallow Place, where no one could hear him scream. Where his mouth opened and no sound came out. Where his eyes grew shut and his mouth closed up into smooth skin and he lived trapped inside his body.

I, I want to get out of here
I, I want to get out of here
I, I've gotta, I've gotta get out of here


Shards of memory. Shards of Self. Cassius sat in the middle of the room and drew. His hands were covered in ink, his nails blackened into half moons. Paper spewed out in every direction, twisting forks of the Twisted Kingdom that ran into the dead ends of his fear. Red eyes littered the papers like blood, bright flashes of someone that the Prince could not remember. Skeletons sat among the papers, a Black Widow’s webs strawn across the old bones. And still the slave drew. He did not eat. He did not sleep. He just drew until he ran out of ink, out of paper, out of energy. And around him sat his life, scattered and unorganized and broken.

The door opened and Cassius looked up at a Black Widow, his lips parted. “Your pleasure is my joy.” The words echoed through the shards. Through time and place. He stood up. He stepped forward. If she didn’t stop him, he planted a kiss on her lips.

See my lonely life unfold
(Leave me alone)
(I didn't want to be)
(Don't touch me)
See my lonely mind explode


Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #1 on: Sep 25, 18, 10:51:45 PM »
Hayll was a strange place. She’d spent her entire life, thus far, with an Eyrien. She’d only known an actually Hayllian for two years. She knew that there were differences between the cultures, but Hayll was so different from Pruul that it felt like another world entirely. There was so much water that Shadya stared at it every chance she got. Elenor had taken her swimming and made sure that they followed rivers until they reached their destination in deep south of Hayll, in a Province called Faro. There, Shadya had seen the ocean for the first time in her life. It was like the Great Desert, but made of water.

Shadya al-Sabbah openly wept without shame for the first time in her life when she laid eyes upon it.

Seeing the ocean made up for the few city-folk who’d stared at her with open disdain. The short-lived weren’t highly regarded here, no matter their skill. The long-lived rarely considered the short-lived as anything other than pets or insects to smash, which made Shadya bristle with anger. Still, Judiah gave her a history lesson and Elenor promised that they would move on to other places soon enough.

Shadya was staring at the ocean (yet again) when her escort, Omaru, arrived to tell her that her latest patient was ready to meet with her. Shadya liked to evaluate those who needed MInd Healing before beginning the process, the better to understand the help that they needed. Shadya wore a light yellow dress and sandals, tying back her long hair to keep it out of her eyes. Later, she would need to make memory crystals in order to show Amira everything she’d seen and done during this journey. Her older sister had worried about leaving Pruul, especially while Uncle Fin was away. Shadya worried after her sister’s well-being. Amira was a grown woman with deep standing in the Abyss.

She could take care of herself.

Omaru escorted her to the room in question and Shadya took a deep breath. “Don’t do anything unless I tell you. I need to talk to him first and get a feel for where he is. Don’t rush to my aid unless I give the signal.” she said.

What’s the signal?” Omaru asked.

The last words in the world that you’ll ever hear: Elenor is playing it safe.

Omaru made a face. “Yes, that definitely means something is wrong.

Shadya nodded and opened the door to the room. The stream papers strewn about the room surprised her. The images on the pagers worried her. Something about the path laid out was familiar, though Shadya couldn’t immediately say what it was. She noted the red eyes in several of the pictures, following the trail into the room.

Your pleasure is my joy.

Shadya’s face turned in the direction of the voice just in time to find the Prince advancing on her. He was moved to kiss her and found the flat side of a dagger pressed against those kissing lips of his.

So this must be what Judiah meant when she talked about the Hayllian Handshake. Very different from the Queen’s Handshake in Dena Nehele.” Shadya said, keeping the Prince at bay. She liked the names, though. They'd been added to her list for future use.

This knife is over a thousand a years old and it’s killed a lot of Hayllians in its time. Do not ever try to touch me without my leave, or it will taste Hayllian blood again.” Shadya said.

Now please take five large steps backward.” she said, waiting for him to comply. When he did, Shadya would sheathe her blade.

You can call me Lady Shadya.  Can you tell me your name? Or tell me what I should call you?” she asked.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #2 on: Sep 26, 18, 09:10:29 AM »
Starting a landslide in my ego
Look from the outside
To the world I left behind


The feeling of cold metal. Soothing, trickling back through the shards. Metal on wrists. Metal on feet. Metal pain. Cassius stared at the knife for a moment, his tongue coming out to taste it before he pulled away. There was not fear in his chiseled face, as there should be, but a clouded desire. A wish for her to follow through with her words. The guard in the corner, the one assigned to Cassius, shifted, about to protest, but he let the Black Widow keep working. Surely she knew what she was doing. Surely all his diligent work of keeping anything sharp, anything harmful away from the Prince, would not be wasted.

I'm dreaming
You're awake
If I were sleeping
What's at stake

Cassius’ hand came up, about to touch the Widow again, wanting this thousand-year-old knife to end his life in a way he had failed at. All that wasted pain. Wasted. Everything wasted. But then, his mind shifted, curved, red eyes staring at him, red eyes telling him to live. The slave put his hand to his head, closing his eyes as he stepped back. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five.” Cassius used the counted steps backward to try and focus on those red eyes, but they slipped away as his foot crumpled a piece of paper underneath him. He looked down. He dropped to his knees, the Black Widow forgotten.

A day without me
Whatever the feelings
I keep feeling
What are the feelings
You left behind

He stared at the picture. A dark mess of twisting lines. Bodies. Packed together. Red eyes. All within a tightly outlined Ring. Cassius stared at the drawing, sitting back on his heels, and stared. His mind aches trying to remember, trying to sift through the broken shards of his mind. He held the picture up to the Black Widow, wondering if it was her hidden in the lines. Wondering if he was supposed to serve her. The Prince frowned, the nice contours if his pretty face vexed.

In the world I left behind
Wipe their eyes, and then let go
To the world I left behind
Shed a tear, and then let go


Her words caused him to look up, his golden eyes faded and dull. “My name…” The words swam around the room. Did things have a name? “This drawing is very important.” He stated, holding it up for her again. “Do you know what it’s of?” The slave glanced around, at the long lines of papers that surrounded him. The eyes were everywhere. They surrounded him. The male bit his lip, hard, fear creeping up inside him. Why were the eyes staring at him? What did they see that he couldn't?

“Cassius.” The word left his lips and the Prince was surprised at it, having forgotten the original question. “My name is Cassius. I belong to Aurav Longinius. That’s two names, isn’t it? Hmm.” He searched for his second name, but he couldn't find it. Maybe it would crop up later. “I think...I think something bad happened.” Cassius looked at his bandaged wrist. “Did I do something bad?”

If he had, why was he still alive?

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #3 on: Oct 03, 18, 12:17:56 AM »
He licked her knife.

He licked her knife.

The action surprised her. Was he fucking with her? If he lacked fear that the prospect of being harmed by a sharp blade, that was worrisome. Shadya vanished the weapon. They’d taken his jewels, so she held the advantage there, but she knew better than to consider harmless any member of the Blood. The passions and hungers inside them ran deep. If this male’s chalice was as damaged as they feared, he could still do her grievous harm if she wasn’t careful.

He obeyed her request and stepped back, so Shadya took a moment to kneel down and look at the pictures. She did not touch them; she did not want to agitate him or make it appear that she was disrespecting his work. In her peripheral, she saw him kneeling to look at the pictures. Shadya turned her gaze on him and watched him quietly to see what he would do. He started to say his name, but then stopped and held up one of the pictures. He called it important and Shadya immediately committed it to memory. If he believed it important, then it could be a key to his recovery or learning just what had happened to him.

Shadya started to answer, but then the Prince looked around the room, his fear seeming to grow as he noticed the eyes in all of the pictures. Whose eyes were they? Was it the person who’d harmed him? Was it someone else?

He called himself Cassius.

Hello, Cassius. You asked me if I knew what the picture was. I don’t but you’ve told me that it’s important. Can you tell me why? You’ve drawn many, many eyes in your pictures.” Shadya said.

Do you know whose eyes these are? Is someone watching you, watching us right now?” Shadya asked, pointing to another picture where the eyes peered out at them. She didn’t immediately address the information about whom he belonged to. The very thought of belonging to someone made Shadya sick to her stomach. Slavers were literally the lowest form of life in the world, even lower than the True Sabbah. That was a very hard depth to reach but the slavers deserved no consideration or thought beyond how fast they could be returned to Mother Night, preferably with as much pain and suffering as possible.

I don’t know what you’ve done, Cassius, but I know that you don’t deserve this. I’d like to help you get better. If we’re going to do that, though, I need you to trust me. I need your help to learn what happened to you so that I can keep it from happening again.” she said softly.

Are you willing to help me?” she asked, trying to keep his gaze focused on her.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #4 on: Oct 05, 18, 02:36:55 PM »
“I can feel her. I can feel her right now, but she isn’t watching us. She isn’t.” Cassius looked at the piece of paper, at the red eyes, and tears ran down his cheeks. He needed something, but he didn’t know what. And it hurt and he didn’t know why. The paper fluttered from his fingertips and joined the others on the ground.

Lost.

Something was lost. Cracked shards. Cassius cupped his face with his hands and stared into the darkness, trying to let it calm him. But it wasn’t enough. There was always shifting landscapes, shifting people, shifting voices. They washed over him, making the slave feel as if he was travelling through time, through space, his environment like the sand changed with the wind.

“I do deserve this.”

The words came out of his mouth and Cassius’ gaze returned to the Black Widow, sharp and focused. Clear. For one moment. One precious moment. He did deserve this. His entire life, stretching back longer than this woman had been alive, drove him to this. Drove him faster and faster, his failures too numerous and too heinous to count.

But it slipped away. His eyes clouded. His hands tapped rhythmically on the ground. One. Two. One. Two. One. Two. The sound calmed him, the movement something he could follow.   

“I…trust…where is my Master? Has he said I should help you? Are you my new Mistress?” Cassius crawled to the Black Widow, his body crumpling the paper. He settled at her feet, his hands tightening as he tried to focus on what she said, as the voices within his head laughed. And cried. And screamed. So much screaming. “My will is yours.” He murmured, his eyes drifting off, wondering where he was. Wondering why it was so dark and twisting and filled with so many paths. The words came instinctually though. “My Jewels are yours. My body is yours.”

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #5 on: Oct 08, 18, 10:32:00 PM »
Shadya listened and considered what Cassius was telling her. He spoke of her, saying that he could feel her, but that she wasn’t watching them. Was he referring to a lover? A mother? A Queen? Shadya was wary of entering the mind of a male who was missing a Queen that he couldn’t remember. The damage to his chalice could be immense in that case, maybe even beyond her ability to fix. Shadya forced herself to calm down and think. She didn’t know anything yet. There was no point in pondering the possibilities before she had a chance learn more about Cassius. The collar around his neck bothered her, but she knew better than to attempting anything with it at present. A slender piece of metal that ruled a man’s or a woman’s life. 

Shadya put aside her discomfort to focus on Cassius and his tapping. Shadya noticed the way the tension seemed to dissipate when the tapping started. Cassius asked her if she was his new Mistress. The question clearly threw her off-balance, shown in the slight lift of her eyebrows. She didn’t want to own him, but she did want to help him. His next words were said, as if by rote, and they made Shadya uncomfortable.

No, Cassius. I’m not your Mistress. Your Master does want me to help you so that you can remember your life and all the things you love. After that...you’ll be free. You won’t need a Mistress or a Master, or anyone to tell you what to do.” she said.

If you still want one, then that will be your choice. The important thing is that you will be able to decide for yourself, and only for yourself.” Shadya said gently.

In order to help you, I’d it if you would sit down on the floor for me. I have to look inside your mind, which means that I need you lower your barriers for me. Together, we’ll help you put everything back where it goes so that you can get better. This will take time and effort, but if you need me to stop, I want you to use the word ‘lullaby’. ” Shadya said.

She offered her hand to the Prince, hoping that the instinct to protect and serve hadn’t been overridden by his pain. He took her hand, seemingly receptive to her touch. His hands were softer than he expected and she dragged the pads of her fingertips from the edge of his wrist, down into his palm, and then all the way between his middle and ring fingers. She did this three or four times to start, letting Cassius get a feel for her hands, her skin, while she matched her breathing to his own.

Slowly, she drifted down into her Tiger Eye, followed by her Purple Dusk, and whispering softly as she shielded her chalice. There was no sense in risking her mind by getting lost in his. Once Shadaya felt comfortable, she extended her senses and pressed gently against his outer barriers. They parted easily, like the flaps of Elenor’s tent, and Shadya stepped inside the Cassius’ mind to survey the damage done.

She found shards of a shattered life and mind littering his chalice.

There were so many shards, so many pieces lying about that Shadya wasn’t sure where to start.

She ventured deeper into Cassisus mind, attempting to weave some of her strength into the Prince’s chalice as well. He was fragile enough; she didn’t want to send him spiraling into the Twisted Kingdom. He would not return from that path.

Cassius? Can you hear me?” Shadya asked aloud. She waited for him to confirm, and then took a deep breath. She continued to caress his hand, and then began to tap out the rhythm that calmed him earlier. One. Two. One. Two. One. Two.

Tell me the earliest thing you remember about your life.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #6 on: Oct 08, 18, 11:06:51 PM »
The words disintegrated as Shadya spoke them, Cassius focused intensely on her lips. The way they moved. The way they crinkled, the way her cheeks softened and tightened. She was very beautiful. He liked when his Mistress’ were very beautiful. It made it easier for him to bed them whenever they wished. The slave looked up at her and thought these thoughts as her mouth continued to move. Move and move and move.

“Lullaby. That is a pretty word.” He said, his golden eyes blinking.

He didn’t understand why she said it or what she meant, but he would follow her orders. He would sit down and he would open his barriers for her to see. Plenty of master’s had done that before. They found it thrilling to riffle around in a slave’s mind. Is that what she wanted? He looked down as she touched him, his other hand coming to trace down from her elbow to her palm, bringing goosebumps to the surface.

His mind might be shattered, but two things remained. Submission and sex. They had been bred into him ever since he could remember. So that is where he started.

“I remember…my collar. It was smooth and it wouldn’t come off. My mother said they were going to test it and she held me still and it…it…” Cassius focused on the rhythm of skin against skin.

One. Two. One. Two. 

“They taught me how to serve after. How to kneel. How to speak. How to act. I never misbehaved. I just…I just wanted my mother to smile.” Cassius’ mind swirled, the shards lifting up and shifting in the eddies of his thoughts, like a swift current, pulling him further and further out. “She never did. And then they took me from her soon after. I tried to reach out, I tried to pull away from the men who took me, but I couldn’t get away. And…and…I had to sit there while she screamed my name over and over and over and over.” The slave pulled his hand away from Shadya and a storm disturbed the smooth current of his mind. Images of his own daughter, long dark hair and golden eyes, screaming his name. Screaming for him. Screaming. Screaming.

Cassius pressed his hands against his ears and started to rock back and forth. Back and forth.

“Make it stop. Make it stop. Please.” He begged her, his voice small and pleading.

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #7 on: Oct 08, 18, 11:50:57 PM »
Bile rose in Shadya’s throat as Cassius explained his earliest memories. Until now, she’d just assumed that the Prince’s master had stolen him and forced him into this life. The idea that his mother had been complicit in breaking him to the collar stoked a deep, ugly anger in the pit of her stomach. Shadya constructed a bulwark against those painful memories, walling them away so that they would not hurt him. The anguish did not fade immediately, but it withdrew like the tide pulling away from the shore.  Shadya withdrew from his mind smoothly and quickly like smoke. The depth of his pain stole the breath of her lungs and she had to let him go in order to reclaim her own mind and space.

She wanted to make Cassius rest and then find his master and put her knife through his neck until his heartsblood leaked all over the pretty marble floors of his opulent home. Or maybe she would make him find the nicest knife that he owned and then force him to peel off strips of his skin and eat them, describing how they tasted from start to finish. Or maybe she would just take the man to bed, ride him senseless and then stick her snaketooth into his jugular right as he climaxed. She wouldn’t even mind letting him spend himself in her, so long as she got to watch the light fade from his eyes. A thousand torments she could visit on Cassius’s master, but she put them aside to to focus on her task. Later, she would tell Elenor what she saw and allow her Queen to decide what action would be taken, if any.

My mother used to sing me lullabies when I was little. After she died, my older sister did it. Sometimes, my Queen does.” Shadya said, extending her senses as she sought all the places his mind was damaged. There were so many that Shadya audibly gasped. She couldn’t piece his memories together until she made sure that his mind itself was strong enough to hold them and all the horrible things that had happened to him. By the end of the first session, Shadya’s jewels were so closed to drained and she was so tired that she had to be helped back to her quarters. But she promised Cassius that she would return the following day.

She visited a Hayllian temple that night and prayed at the altar for an hour before she sought connection with the Darkness. She slept fitfully that night, waking in the middle of the night to sneak down to Cas’ room and sit by the door. She didn’t say anything or indicate that she was there, but she wanted to be sure that he rested.

The following day, she work and constructed the map of the Prince’s mind that she’d obtained from her initial observations. There was a deep and grievous damage to his mind. He’d been made into a servant, a slave meant only to give to other people, no matter the cost to himself. They took and took and took from him and then wondered why he’d broken.

Her mentor's words returned to her.

Cripple a man’s body and he will live long enough to heal and seek revenge. Cripple a man’s mind and you never need fear his reprisal.

Their next several sessions focused solely upon strengthening Cassius’ mind to withstand the weight of his violations without breaking beneath them. They worked together for days that became weeks. All the while Shadya gathered the shards of memory and constructed a place inside Cassius’ mind to hold them all safely while they strengthened his mind and chalice. Two full weeks passed with the pair learning more of each other, and Shadya telling him about Pruul and Dena Nehele.

At the start of the third week, Shadya sat down in front of Cassius, legs folded beneath her, taking his hand and tapping out their calming rhythm.

Cassius? I think it’s time that we take a look at  a few more things that you remember. You’ve done very, very well so far, but I’d like to talk about the woman with the red eyes. Can we do that today?” she asked him softly.

When he agreed, Shadya entered his mind and called forth the pieces necessary to assemble a picture of the red eyed woman.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #8 on: Oct 09, 18, 10:15:18 AM »
Cassius did not sleep well.

He did not sleep at all. He kept hearing the screaming, echoing back and forth from the shards of his life. Everywhere. Drenched in the chaotic tremble of his mind. His golden eyes stared at the ceiling, blinking, blinking. The guard in the corner with him asked him if he was okay and the Prince took deep breaths, in and out. In and out. Shadya came in soon after and Cas’ face broke open in a smile, his eyes crinkling. His Mistress would help him. She would guide him right. Taking the brew the Black Widow gave him without a single question, the last though Cassius had was of the long haired Black Widow and the gentle tapping of her skin against his.

Over the next few weeks he became more comfortable with the witch. He even smiled at her a few times, grasped her hand lightly, showed her his drawings. Gentle and docile. Sweet. Cassius almost felt bliss in the shattering of his mind, the forgetting of his life. So it was with a little trepidation that he nodded his head when she announced their course for the day.

“O-okay.” He stammered, glancing at the pictures on the wall. The red eyes staring at him.

As she entered his mind and begun to rebuild the memory of the red eyed woman, Cassius felt his body begin to tremble. It started small, at first, but then turned into full on shaking. And still the shards kept going, fitting into place. Building a picture. His breathe became erratic as his heart pounded and he became dizzy. And still the picture built, the last shard settling into place to reveal a beautiful black haired woman. Smiling. The wind blew her black hair gently and Cassius drank in her body. The ways he shifted weight to one foot. The way her fingers ran over each other while she thought. The way her cheeks hitched up when she smiled. She was stunning. Breathtaking. Perfect.

“Precious,” he breathed.

And then memories, each tiny shards themselves, came. The woman violated. Over and over. Her blood in the air. The sound of her screams. The feeling of her fear as she was tortured. The sound of his name on her lips as she cried. The feeling of her Touch before pain. The loss of her forever ripping his heart out. Pain. So much pain. Too much. Cassius threw himself at the image of the woman, shattering it into pieces. He continued forward, slamming against the newly fortified walls of his Chalice and his mind as he tried to get away from the pain. From the love that burned him.

“No!”

The walls of his mind held, thanks to the expert work of the Black Widow, but Cassius’ grief spilled out into the real world. His hands pushed Shadya away from him, the Prince moving forward to loom over her on the ground. His teeth clenched, his eyes hard and angry and desperate. What was she trying to do? She was hurting him. Hurting.

A long moment drew out and Cassius’ breath faltered as he glared down at Shadya. He wanted to hurt something, make the pain go away, but he had never been allowed to hurt anything in his entire life. Not without permission. And...she was helping him. Shame colored his scent.

He pulled away.

“I’m sorry. I...I wouldn’t do that normally. I can’t…” He fell backwards onto the ground, away from her. “I’m just sorry.” He pressed his hand to his head, ashamed and disappointed in himself.

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #9 on: Oct 12, 18, 11:05:38 PM »
Shadya would never admit it aloud, but she like the way his face lit up when she entered the room.

He showed her his drawings. They talked about his life and family. Thus far, Shadya had been very, very careful to keep her life and connections outside of Elenor out of any conversations they had. This work, Shadya’s work, was about helping Cassius. She did not want to upset him or trigger any painful memories with bits and pieces of her life. Sure, Cassius wasn’t old enough to have endured the Purge or fought in the Great War, but he could easily have family who’d endured one or both of those things. Therefore, telling him about what happened in Dena Nehele or talking about her Eyrien uncle were both off-limits subjects.

Cassius trusted her to help him and Shadya would be worthy of that trust.

He agreed to her idea, though she sensed his hesitation. Shadya didn’t take that personally, but it did make her reconsider the plan, if briefly. What if he wasn’t ready? What if this was too much for him? The longer she thought about it, the more that she realized that she was projecting her thoughts and worries onto him. Cassius had been through a lot, but they’d come very far together in these past few weeks. She couldn’t know his readiness or what he could handle without exposing him to those things.

Remember, if it’s uncomfortable, tell me and we’ll stop. I don’t want to hurt you, Cas.” she said softly.

Shadya began and it all seemed like it was going well. The red-eyed woman seemed important and Shadya wondered if this was, perhaps, his mother. Or his lover. The latter thought scraped against Shadya’s temper, but she smashed it down. Bit by bit, she reassembled the memory of this woman, hoping to give Cassius something stable to hold onto, a foundation to continue rebuilding his mind. But when the trembling started, Shadya realized that she’d made a grave mistake.

Precious.

The word confused Shadya. Why would Cas call her that? But as the image of the red-eyed woman sharpened in the Price’s mind, Shadya understood that it wasn’t a term of endearment, but a name. This woman’s name was Precious. She was beautiful. Like, Judiah-level beautiful, which was Shadya’s benchmark for female beauty. She was clearly long-lived, but something about her features was more feral than the regal and sharp angles that she saw in Judiah or Cas. And then she saw the wings.

The flood of information from Cassius’s memories started as a trickle, then became a stream, and soon blossomed into a tidal wave that threatened to drag her down and crush her in the undertow. She wasn’t his mother or his lover, but her scent burned itself into Shadya’s mind just as Elenor’s had and the Black Widow realized who and what Precious was. Not just a Queen, but his Queen.

The connection broke as Cassius shoved her away.

Shadya tumbled away from him and struggled to get her bearings. It didn’t take long.

Cassius was standing over her.

He was hurting. She’d hurt him and now she was going to die for it. She pushed herself up to her knees and looked up at him, wondering if he’d make it quick or if he’d tear her heart out of her chest slowly. It would be a  shitty way to die, but one she’d earned. She’d not placed a stop command in his head. She’d let her guard down and now she was paying for it.

Cassius stared at her briefly, and then backed away from her. He was ashamed and disgusted with himself. He was embarrassed that he’d harmed her. His feelings mirrored her own and Shadya wondered if that was a side effect of the Mind Healing or just the fact that they’d spent so much time together lately.

Cassius, it’s...it’s okay. It’s not your fault. I pushed you too far, too fast. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, okay?” she said. She wanted to reach out and take his hand, help calm him down, but what if he didn’t trust her? What if he hated her now?

She would deal with it. Elenor had given her this task and Shadya would handle it.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #10 on: Oct 13, 18, 11:32:25 AM »
The former slave saw a brief flicker of fear in the Black Widow’s eyes. Fear. Of him. The same fear that deadened his eyes whenever he kneeled at his Master’s feet. The male felt like throwing up at that look. He felt like walking into the desert and letting himself waste away. It wasn't Shadya he didn't trust.

It was himself.

Cassius stumbled backwards, his legs hitting the frame of his bed. They gave out then and he sat on the edge, his entire body continuing to shake. His hands, his legs, his very mind. All of the healing Shadya had accomplished up to this point held, but only barely. Such was the power of the woman with the red eyes. She haunted him, waking and while asleep. The Prince began to cry, the tears washing down his face as his mind ached from the pain of trying to remember her. Cas was adept at pain, he had been trained to enjoy it, but this was something else. This was torture.

“Can we…can we just leave the red-eyed woman out? She…it hurts so badly. It hurts more than anything else.” He looked at Shadya before burying his head in his hands. “Can you just erase that part of my life? It hurts too bad. I don’t know if I can relive it.” Just that small moment, the image of the red-eyes woman before he had shattered it, letting the memories float away, had been too much. Why did she have such a hold over him? Was she his Mistress? His friend? Cassius was asking the Black Widow for something he didn’t even understand.

Cassius took a long breath and dropped his hands from his face, trying to wipe away the tears. Thus far, he had screamed. He had curled up into a ball. He had become angry, but this was the first time he had cried. And it made him feel helpless, because he didn’t even know what the tears were for—only his body did.

He gestured for Shadya to sit next to him. “I wasn’t like this before. I raised my daughter until her mother gave me away. I made people laugh until they forgot their problems. I stopped people from returning themselves to the Darkness. I just…I don’t know where that Cassius is anymore.” He wanted to return to the Darkness. He wanted all of this pain to stop. “I’m sorry I scared you….I’ve never raised a hand to a witch without an order to do so. I just…want you to know that. The person I was before—he would never hurt you.” If the Black Widow had joined him, the Prince laid his hand on top of hers, squeezing once.

If only he could find that old Cassius.

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #11 on: Oct 16, 18, 11:49:19 PM »
Shadya’s work took on a new complexity with the revelation of Cassius’s Queen. She didn’t need to ask if Precious was on the grounds; if she had been, Aurav would have been best served by bringing her in to keep Cassius calm while Shadya worked. But given her effect upon him, that was probably a bad idea. Shadya had much work to do before they could approach her as a subject again. Shadya already knew that they’d have to talk about her again, if only because the idea of a bonded male being unable to stand his Queen’s presence would destroy her work faster than any torture that the collar could inflict.

I will be very honest with you, Cassius. Yes, I can remove her from your mind. I can cut her out and you will never recall her for as long as you live, which...is a long time. I can even make it so that you don’t remember that I did it. But somewhere in this world, your Queen is out there. Some part of you will always remember her and...it would cause you greater pain to find her again and not understand why she hurts you than for us to slowly rebuild your memories of her.” Shadya said.

I will do it if you truly wish, Cassius. But first...let’s work on restoring your happier memories before we go taking things away.” Shadya said.

For now, please let me back inside and I’ll put her back in the box. I may know of someone else who can make you happy.” Shadya said.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #12 on: Oct 21, 18, 09:39:57 PM »
“She is my happiest memory….” The words were a whisper.

Cassius buried his face in his hands. Nothing, no moment in his life, had compared to that of when he had bonded. Such exhilaration. Joy. Peace. The end of a lifetime of pain.

But then a new one had begun.

The Prince inhaled sharply and opened his mind back up for Shadya without a word. She might not claim to be his Master and Cas knew she was not, deep down, but it was easier to let his life be led by her. Safer. When he tried to lead things, when he tried to make his Queen and his daughter happy, everything turned to screams.

The days turned into weeks as the healing stopped and started. Cassius was left to his own devices when the Sabbah Queen was attacked, wondering around the Sabbah grounds and trying to find a purpose. Gradually, he found one. He began to talk to some of the Sabbah about Shadya. About her family. A particularly talkative old woman recounted her sister, Amira, and how the young Priestess had been filled with life.

Had been.

Cassius flattered the old woman easily, his recently acquired Jewels making it easy to manipulate the woman’s emotions. Make her happy. Make her willing to spill the history of the Sabbah to him. And she did. He listened to it all, quietly. And he sketched as he did. Stopping the woman and congealing her into recounting some of the instances in excruciating detail. The work took most of his time, but the Prince also began to regain some of his awareness. Some of his ability to worry.

He dreamed fitfully, nightmares coloring his every breath like great shades of shifting darkness. So, in place of sleep, he drew. The colored pencils he had from Hayll scattered across the floor of his room as he tried to make sense of his new life. One where he could make his own decisions. One without his Queen or his daughter.

And Cassius didn’t know if that was necessarily a bad thing. He was a poor skilless Prince and his daughter was the heiress of a Hundred family. What could he give her that they could not? His Queen was no longer with Aurav and no longer with him, so she was in considerable less pain. She did not have to worry about the pain Cassius could uniquely bring her. The pain that he could not protect her from.

Cas closed his eyes and held in the turmoil he felt. Ever since Shadya had healed his mind enough for him to regain his composure, he had stopped showing his emotions. Most of their sessions had been behind a pleasant mask, one that hid his reactions to reliving the traumatic memories that solidified his Chalice.

After Elenor had healed and Shadya had been made Voice, Cassius felt like he was nearing some milestone. He felt as if he might soon be healed, might soon be ready to face the moment that had broken his Chalice. Maybe. Soon.

So, in preparation, he went to Shadya’s new office a half hour before their scheduled session. He wore his Hayllian clothes once more, the tight leather breaches and loose shirt that v’ed low, only held together by a loose crisscrossed tie.  Cas knocked on the door softly and smiled at the Black Widow, his white teeth flashing and the skin around his striking golden gaze crinkling.

“I know I am early, Lady Sabbah, but do you have a moment? I wanted to discuss something.”

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #13 on: Oct 28, 18, 02:37:30 PM »
Shadya was already mad at Fin for a thousand reasons that had nothing to do with his duties as Voice of the Sabbah. Her uncle did those well, but she could not find his notes on everyone he’d spoken to and all of the things he’d done prior to leaving for Askavi. Shadya found them and brought herself up to speed with his decisions and ideas on how to advise Elenor. Shadya agreed with some of it, but not all. She read everything several times, sighing when she realized that she only had an hour before Cassius’s visit. But she couldn’t tear her eyes away from her uncle’s handwriting.

When the knock came, Shadya vanished the letter and looked up...only to realize that she hadn’t lost track of time.

Cassius was early and he wanted to talk.

Had she pushed him too hard? They’d made great strides together during their work, but Shadya had seen his mind before he recovered his jewels, when it was shattered and fragmented beyond recognition. They’d rebuilt him, bit by bit, but Shadya felt like she knew Cassius well enough to sense when he was hiding something from her.

More and more, it felt like he was hiding things from her.

Why did she care, though? He was her patient. If he wanted to keep things to himself, that was fine. It should have been fine. But every time he smiled at her or tried to hide his sorrow, or his joy, or refused to react to the pain that she knew still existed in the corners of his mind, it felt like a denial. A denial of their friendship. A denial of her skill.

A denial of her.

I know I am early, Lady Sabbah, but do you have a moment? I wanted to discuss something.

She flashed him a smile like ice and knives. “You’re half-an-hour early, Prince Decius. But yes, I have a moment. I think we have a few things to discuss, but...you can go first.” she said.

His smile made her want to punch him in his perfect teeth. Every time he smiled at her like that, she wanted to smile back, make some kind of stupid small-talk, and ask him how he was doing. Her sharp verbal jabs and witty retorts all liked his smile, especially the ones that reached his eyes and made his dimples more pronounced. Now she really wanted to punch him in the face.

Except she didn't. Not even a little. Not at all.

No, I’m going first.” she said suddenly.

Why are you asking people about me? About my family?

Lady Strikes-First lived up to her name.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #14 on: Oct 28, 18, 10:33:00 PM »
It was rare for anyone to see behind Cassius’ Hayllian mask, perfectly crafted and tested against years of torture. It drifted through his interactions, a pleasant smile, a careful touch. It protected the Prince and was instinctual, not only because he had been a slave, but because he was Hayllian.

So Shadya was in a bit of a rare position. She had seen Cassius, vulnerable, open, weeping. She had seen behind his mask and, truth be told, it made the Prince anxious. He liked the Black Widow, admired her skill, and thought her fierce determination was beautiful.

Even now, the way she commanded the meeting was enthralling. Her words filled with emotion. He could sense her annoyance. Even perhaps a wisp of anger within them. Cassius marveled at the way she wielded her emotions, thrusting them out in the open for anyone to taste. It was intriguing and just a bit alluring. Perhaps because he so rarely did it.

The Prince simply slipped into the room, his hands coming to rest on the back of the chair across from the Black Widow. His expressing gave nothing away. “You seem concerned. Do you think I might hurt you or them?” He paused, a quirked eyebrow the only indication of his dismay. Had she looked behind his mask, into his memories, and seen the kind of man that would harm her?

“You’ve seen more about my life than anyone else—even my Queen. Every moment. Every misstep. So I was curious about your life. About the person that holds all of that knowledge.” She had not divulged anything about her family, her friends, her own trials. He had benne curious. 

“I had other motives as well. They are what I wanted to speak with you about. You’ve given me a great deal, Lady. My mind. My freedom. Perhaps a future. I can’t repay that. And I want too. I don’t want anything given to my anymore. That is what I received as a slave.” He wanted to repay the Black Widow. He wanted to give her something of value, something that she needed. He didn’t have any skills though. Nothing besides sex. He would offer her that, but he remembered her reaction the first time he had tried to kiss her.

“So I asked around and I listened. Perhaps cajoled. The Sabbah are a private people, but I have my ways.” A grin moved his lips and he chuckled lightly. Even the old gave way to flattery and flirting. “And I eventually made you this, as a down payment for your services.”

The Prince called in a large drawing, roughly the size of a small window. It was not framed and the papers edges were ragged, Cassius unable to find the pristine canvasses that they sold in Hayll. Black and white lines crossed the page, dark and light shadows forming the high cheek bones and oval face of Amira. He had drawn her according to the combined memory of the many people he had talked too, her large eyes filled with delight and her plush lips arched up with the hint of a smile. Her face was immediate, filling the entire page, her gaze drawn out and arresting the viewer, daring them to look closer.

“I don’t know if I captured her, so I could make some alterations if she’s not right. And I know it’s not enough, just hardly the beginning of repaying you, but I wanted to at least start.” He did not show it, but he was anxious. Nervous that she wouldn't like it or that he had made some kind of mistake.

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #15 on: Nov 01, 18, 11:45:07 PM »
Shadya watched Cassius, uncertain if he would lie to her about his intentions. She’d seen inside of his mind and she knew things about him that others didn’t. Getting close to others outside her family or her Queen just wasn’t Shadya’s way. Every interaction, every bit of personal information that she allowed to slip chipped away at the mask and the reputation that she’d crafted for herself. Every time she was in the same room as Cassius Decius, Shadya worried that she’d give away something that she couldn’t take back. Then it would give him power over her that she couldn’t regain.

She couldn’t examine why that though frightened her so much. It just did.

No, Prince Cassius.” Shadya sighed. They’d spent so much time together over the last few months. They’d talked, laughed, and eaten together. She’d watched him sleep and she’d seen him at his weakest. That meant something to her, but how did she communicate that without giving away more than she intended? Shadya realized now that her skill at putting others on the defensive wasn’t always an advantage.

I didn’t meant to imply that you were going to hurt my family. It’s just...you probably heard things about my family that weren’t flattering. I was raised by an Eyrien Warlord. One who killed a lot of people in the Great War. We’re not related by blood, but…” Shadya inhaled, determined to remain composed at the thought of Fin. She was the Voice of the Sabbah now. She couldn’t just break down every time the conversation turned toward her family. The Separatists would seize on that, given the chance. Still, she rubbed at  her left arm with her right hand for a moment, her silver cuff visible on her left wrist.

...he’s all the family that I have left and he’s not here.” Shadya said.

You met Lady Judiah. I’ve adopted her as my aunt. She’ll come around eventually. Elenor is my Queen. I’m surrounded by people who are going to live so long that they’ll forget I existed.” Shadya said, shrugging her slim shoulders.

When Cassius talked about repaying her, Shadya looked at him and shook her head. “I didn’t help you because I wanted something in return. You were wronged, Cassius. No person should own another person’s body. It’s wrong. And all of the terrible things that Aurav did to you made me want to…

Shadya didn’t finish that sentence. Despite the way he’d been treated, and how he’d been separated from his Queen, Shadya knew that Aurav could be a tender subject for him. She didn’t want to upset him, not even by accident. But he still talked about paying her.

I enjoying serving others, Cassius. Again, you don’t have to pay me.” Shadya said.

But when he called in the drawing, Shadya fell silent and let him speak. Cassius showed his appreciation in a different way than she accustomed to. She reminded herself that he needed this, so she had to sit through at least part of it.

And then she saw Amira’s face and all of her words and protests were blown away.

Staring at her sister’s face on the paper was too hard. For a moment, Shadya had to look away. Had Cassius looked into her mind? She’d been careful not to speak of Amira in anything but the vaguest terms. But he’d captured her essence in this drawing as if she’d sat for him. Which was insane because Amira would consider it a vain thing to do, posing for a drawing.

Her hand covered her mouth as tears welled.

No, y-you captured her very well.” Shadya said. And he was still talking about repaying her. If he kept talking, she would cry. Then she would have to kill him, because crying in front of him was a bridge too far. She would lose all of her power and advantage if she cried in front of him.

She would not cry right now.

This is very kind of you, Cassius. I think Amira would have liked you. Hell, I might have tried to set you two up, just because she was so weird about males sometimes. But this...you didn’t have to do this.” Shadya said.

She leaned back against her desk for a moment, regarding him with new curiosity.

What’s really going on here, Cassius? We’ve been working together for months, now. You’re in a better place than when we met. All I’ve done is help you heal.

Why do you feel the need to repay me for doing what I was made to do?
” Shadya asked.


Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #16 on: Nov 13, 18, 06:36:22 PM »
Cassius shrugged, his shirt shifting to reveal more of the dark black hair on his chest, perfectly manicured. “My own people are maiming, torturing, and killing their own. I gave up trying to judge groups of people on presumptions. Besides, I grew up after the Great War and was more concerned about pleasing my Masters than on an enemy I never knew.” He didn’t add that his own Queen had wings. Beautiful membranous black wings that their Master had basically clipped. Cassius was unsure if anyone had told Precious they were beautiful before he had. Any people that shared blood with Queen could not be all bad. It was curious Shadya thought he might think that though. Perhaps she knew more free Hayllians than he did. The Prince knew his perspective was fairly limited.

At least he could put some of her fears aside. And Cassius did not care if she rejected that word. Fear. Because that is what it was. He had not spent half a century reading people’s emotions to be so blind. “If he is your uncle than I’m sure he is not like the stories they told of Eryiens in Hayll. You don’t seem like the type of witch to put up with much shit.” And then he paused and added. “I think you are wrong in your assumption of the long livedas well. The few short lived slaves I spoke to always assumed the long live forget those with less of a life span, but that’s not true. We forgot those that are unremarkable, those that leave no imprint on our life, long or short lived. And you Lady Shadya, are not unremarkable and being forgotten is not something you will have to worry about.”

He would think that was fairly obvious.

For all that Cassius had been comfortable, relaxed, self assured a moment ago, as she brought up the past helooked away. Even the mention of Aurav sent a shiver of fear down his spine. He no longer thought the man owned him or he had set up some elaborate plot to trap him, but the terror of ever seeing the male again was bone deep. The Prince did not know if he could stop himself from kneeling or even from apologizing that he left. If he left Pruul, would the other territories return him to Aurav if they found out he had escaped? Fidgeting, Cas took a deep breath and gulped, attempting to disengage from thoughts of his Master.

At least he could distract himself with the drawing. His eyes are up her reaction, a large smile showing his perfectly white teeth. Warmth flowed through him. He had been so worried she wouldn’t like it. That this was not what free people did. His dark hair shifted in front of his eyes as the Prince felt the weight of the room shift, the emotions heavy in the air. Cassius felt the desire to reach out and grab Shadya’s hand in his excitement, but he didn’t. That would probably be overstepping.

Instead he dutifully extended a strand of emotional Craft, easing the sadness she felt with the practiced ease of a professional. “Thank you, Lady, but I doubt I would have been an appropriate match for your sister. I doubt I’m a good match for anyone.” He laughed lightly, his golden eyes sparkling with mirth at the idea. “It’s fine though. I am still unconvinced that this ‘love’ Judiah speaks so highly of truly exists outside of family and Bond.” It seemed a very odd notion to him. He wondered if Shadya felt the same way and he was even more curious why he cared at all.

He watched as the the new Voice sat back before he shifted uncomfortably, again. That was twice in one meeting. Such visible signs of his emotions were rare for the Prince and he chided himself for showing them so easily, “Just because you were made to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Or that you want to do it for free. I was made for pleasure, but some compensation would be nice going forward.”

Sighing, Cassius leaned closer to the Black Widow, his teeth clenching briefly.

“The real reason is...I’m feeling a bit...lost. You’ve done an amazing job repairing my Chalice and now I am beginning to wonder what’s next. How people...be free.” He brought his long fingers up to run through his hair, his shoulder sagging. He didn’t know how to explain it fully. He didn’t even know if free people had these thoughts or worries. “It is perhaps a normal thing for you. Maybe hard to imagine. But...I’ve always been the payment, not the payer. Always been told what to do and where to go. It feels...strange, almost terrifying...to begin to try and figure out things you’ve been able to learn since birth. I thought payment might be a good place to start, before I move onto anything...substantial.” He didn’t think he could fuck up giving people a payment too badly.

“Like what to do when I leave Pruul.”

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #17 on: Nov 16, 18, 01:50:05 AM »
Shadya won the battle to keep her eyes on Cassius’ face, but only just. It was like watching a perfectly-chiseled golden statue come to life. She focused on keeping eye-contact with the Hayllian, the better to keep herself from staring at anything else on his body. He said that she had no reason to ever worry about being forgotten or unremarkable. She certainly hoped so. The amount of screaming she was responsible for in this life alone should count for something, she thought. But she sensed that Cassius wasn’t offering her empty flattery. He meant what he said.

He shifted from self-assured, almost cocky, to shy and demurring. If Shadya’s attention hadn’t been focused on him as he spoke, if she didn’t know him so much of him through their work together, she would’ve missed it completely. Aurav had done his soul a deep and grievous wrong, one that Shadya’s soul demanded a blood Price for. She was no Queen with the ability to claim one, but matters did not need to wait for a Queen’s approval to set to rights.

Don’t sell yourself short, Cassius. Despite all you’ve endured, you’re a good man. What you’ve been through would turn other men cruel, or manipulative, or just plain cold. And don’t be so down on the idea of love. It exists...so I’m told. I only know the familial kind, but I’m hopeful. It makes the bad days seem less bad, I guess.

But if you tell anyone that I’m not a raging hell-bitch, intent on crushing the dreams and hopes of everyone around me, I’ll deny it.
” she said, winking at him.

Just because you were made to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Or that you want to do it for free. I was made for pleasure, but some compensation would be nice going forward.

Shadya blinked, clearly surprised. That surprise shifted to confusion while she tried to understand his meaning. He’d been used as a pleasure slave for his entire life. He was given no choice. She couldn’t imagine the idea of sex and intimacy being corrupted like that. What she gave, she gave freely, but it was always, always, always her choice to give. Everything inside her recoiled at the idea of being forced to use her gifts and body at someone else’s command, but only because she was born with an understanding of freedom. She had that right to her mind, her thoughts, and her body.

How could she understand someone who’d spent decades “knowing” that his primary focus in life was the pleasure of another person? Of course he’d struggle with being free. She chided herself for not seeing that sooner.

You’re right, Cassius. It is hard for me to understand where you’re coming from. I’ve spent so much time in your head that I know what you’ve been through, but I haven’t lived your life. Freedom is hard. Not the same way that slavery is, but it has its own pitfalls. You can be overwhelmed with choice and fail to act. You can be presented with only bad options to choose from, but you still have the power to choose the one that does the least harm.” Shadya said.

She watched him for a long moment, then gently set the picture of Amira down on her desk. Then she turned and walked toward him.

You have a long, long life ahead of you, Cassius. Five-thousand years, if all goes to plan. I can hardly imagine what it’s like for you to look out over that distance. It’s probably looks terrifying. But you can choose to take it one day at a time. You can do anything you wish. You can be anyone you want. You’ll make good choices and bad ones. There will be days that you’re happy beyond reason...and days that will hurt so badly you don’t want to get out of bed.” Shadya said, taking another pair of steps toward him, until she was standing before him.

For me, the trick to life is living it by any means necessary. Don’t hurt anyone that is good to you, if you can avoid it. But feel everything. Experience everything and make good memories for the bad times. When the bad times come, don’t run from them, but let them teach you the lessons you need to learn and then move beyond them.” Shadya said.

But you’re the only person who learn what being free holds in store for you. Now ask yourself:

What do you want most? Find that thing and then go after it.
” Shadya said.

Offline Cassius Decius

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #18 on: Nov 16, 18, 11:51:34 AM »
Cassius did not think he was a good man.

Shadya saw him as someone that had survived and endured, but he saw himself as a coward. A good man would have killed Aurav for raping his Queen. A good man would have slipped into his Master’s room and stolen Precious’ Ring, even if it sealed his own fate. A good man would have done something other than bow his head and dutifully serve.

But the Black Widow did not see that. She was rather optimistic and Cassius liked that. He had been that way with Precious, coaxing her down from a panic attack through pretty words and small touches. The Prince just couldn’t find that same optimist within himself now that he was free. He felt too overwhelmed, even as his face remained neutral and his body relaxed.

“I wouldn’t dream of it. Especially now that you are Voice. You’ll need those devastating glares that only a raging bitch can give out.” Cassius smiled wide. “Speaking of. I can’t help but notice there are many who don’t like Lady Elenor or her friends. Be careful. Okay? I want you to have this.” Cassius laid a metal petal on the desk. It had been shaped from a spoon for his Queen and she had left a Red shield within it. “It has a shield in it from my Queen. When I leave, I’d like to know you’re safe.”

Cassius looked at her as she rounded the desk and came close to him. He reached out and took her hands gently if she allowed, his thumb running over the backs of her hand. Touch was easy for him. Comforting. He thought little of it.

What do you want most?

The question caused a pang of fear to surge through him. What did he want most in the world? What a terrifying question. What if he said it out loud and he could never get it? What if he did? Both were equally paralyzing.

“I want…” he looked at her, into her eyes and he squeezed her hand. He wanted many different things. What did he want most though? “I want my daughter and my Queen. But I don’t have any rights to Bellona and...I’ve hurt Precious so much. Maybe it would be better fir her without me.”

Offline Shadya al-Sabbah

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Re: The Refracted Lives We Lead
« Reply #19 on: Nov 26, 18, 12:25:01 AM »
Shadya laughed softly at his assertion that she’d need her glares. Her smile dimmed a touch when Cassius pointed out that people didn’t like Elenor. Shadya knew this and was prepared for nearly anyone who felt compelled to offer her violence due to her Queen, but Cassius’ concern for her was still a sweet thing to hear. The metal petal was levitated into the Black Widow’s hand and studied briefly, then vanished away. She would study it in detail later, but it cost her nothing to accept the Prince’s gift and concern without further comment.

Thank you, Cassius. When you’re ready to leave, I hope you’ll at least say goodbye. I’d like to think that we’re friends.” Shadya said.

When he took her hands, Shadya looked up at him, searching his face with his gaze. She could guess what he wanted most, but it wasn’t really a guess. There was a hole in his heart and soul that was shaped like his Queen. He needed her and, all told, she needed him as well. What would it be like to need Elenor and not know where to find her? Or not be able to go to her? Shadya knew that she’d burn the world to ashes to get to her Queen, no matter the forces or distance arrayed against her. Elenor’s safety and happiness were her prime concerns, and Shadya would see to it that Elenor survived the coming trials in order to be the Queen that Clan Sabbah needed.

Shadya felt his fear and pain in the air between them. She had been free her whole life, but it would take him decades, maybe centuries to grow accustomed to it...and there was every chance that he never would. Shadya believed in him, but it meant nothing if Cassius didn’t believe in himself and his ability to overcome all that he’d already endured.

I want...I want my daughter and my Queen. But I don’t have any rights to Bellona and...I’ve hurt Precious so much. Maybe it would be better for her without me.

Shadya was shaking her head before her finished his sentence. Cassiuss blamed himself for so many things that he felt unworthy. He’d been made to believe that he deserved only suffering and slavery. His Queen had endured the same horrors and there was no knowing if she’d required Mind Healing for her own good. It would be hard for either of them to heal or comfort each other if they were both damaged. So many unanswered questions and so little time to address them.

Cassius, please hear me now. Not as the Voice of Clan Sabbah and as the Court Seer who repaired your Chalice, but as a young woman who lost her father at an early age. If there was Craft that could turn back time, I would use it to snatch a few more minutes with my father, whether or not my mother acknowledged paternity. Uncle Fin did what he could for Amira and me, but I think he knew that he couldn’t replace our father. So he didn’t try. He told us stories and explained the kind of man that he was, but all of those don’t make up for that loss. I can’t tell you how to live your life. As your friend, I would counsel you to keep that door open. Especially given how long you’ll both live. I could say something about how the future is uncertain, but that’s a little too cryptic, I think.

The matter of your Queen is simple, though. Find her and care for her as you were made to, Cassius. Let her do the same for you. You are free and you were not responsible for the horrible things that were done to her.
” Shadya said, squeezing his hands in her own. She wanted him to hear her, really hear her, and to follow his heart.

Your mind will tell you a thousand reasons that you shouldn’t. Pay attention to the part of you that says you must.” Shadya said.

Or you’ll never find peace, nor will she.