i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Jason finished watching the nine o'clock news and checked his phone again. He had messaged Lisa hours ago, to invite her over after work, but there had been no response. It was very unlike her, usually she spent most nights at his place. Initally Jason had resented the intrusion into his personal space, but over the last six months he had grown used to having her around. It was nice to have someone to cuddle with on the sofa and eat Chinese food with, to go out with friends as a couple, to have her there when he woke up in the morning. In fact, he had seriously been considering making it official and asking her to actually move in.

Where is she? Why isn't she answering her phone?

He called her but it went straight to voicemail again. With a sigh, he tossed his phone aside and went into the kitchen to see what was in the fridge. As he piled his plate high with cold pizza and chicken wings, he heard the beep that signalled an incoming message.

Jason. I need to see you. Please don't avoid me. Sara.

He went cold all over. Sara – a mistake he wished he could undo. They worked together and she had been chasing him for months. A few weeks before, after an argument with Lisa about him visiting his parents, he had gotten drunk and given in to her advances. It had just been a stupid mistake and Jason had made it very clear to her that it would never happen again. But Sara seemed to have difficulty hearing the word 'No' and had taken to sending him countless messages.

We have nothing to talk about. Jason send back, and took the opportunity to try Lisa again. Still voicemail. “Darling, where are you? I'm a little worried, call me when you get this.” Perhaps she had gone home to get changed and fallen asleep, but he was still concerned. It was so unlike her to be missing all evening.

You can't ignore me, Jason. We belong together. I know you love me like I love you.

Not bothering to respond, he flicked through the channels, looking for something to take his mind off everything going on. Why had he been stupid enough to get involved with Sara? What if she told Lisa about their fling? One stupid mistake could cost him everything.

I'll tell her. Tomorrow, I will cook her a nice meal and I will tell her what happened. And I'll do whatever I can to make it up to her.

He grabbed his phone as it went off again. Another message from Sara: I know you don't really love her. Don't worry, I am going to take care of everything.

Going to take care of everything? What did she mean – had she discovered a way to contact Lisa? Was that why she wasn't answering? With shaky fingers, he typed a reply.

What have you done, Sara?

Her response was instant. I left you a present on the porch.

Jason looked towards the door, torn between wanting to know what was going on, and being overcome with a sense of fear and dread. Reluctantly he drew back the bolt and turned the door handle. It was dark outside, but he could just about make out a large box.

FOR YOU WITH LOVE was written on the note in bright red.

He opened it with trembling hands and screamed. His girlfriend's severed head gazed up at him with lifeless eyes.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Warning: Potentially very triggering. Attempted suicide, self harm, mental health issues.

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
You have to look ahead. Look for an opening.

I learned that at a young age. A lot of abused children do.

Some people are always looking ahead, usually as a way to gain advantage over others. In such a fast-paced world, that is what has become important. The better job. More money. A bigger house. A better car than the neighbour has. Always competing and pushing for more. How many people will cut out someone else to get what they think they nee or manipulate a situation to get that opening?

Does it make people happy?

For me, it has never been about getting a personal advantage - it has been about survival. Thinking ahead to try and avoid the abuse, to try and stay away from those who might wish to harm me, to escape from situations where there was danger.

To attempt to protect my younger brothers and sisters. Sometimes at the cost of my own safety. Often I failed; how can you expect a child to confidently predict the behaviours of adults?

But I always tried.
i_love_freddie: (imaginary)
Soon, My Dearest Love


It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was lashing down hard and fast, while thunder roared across the sky and lightning flashed down from the heavy black clouds. Villagers huddled around blazing fires, wrapped in blankets to ward off the damp chill.

In the small castle high up on the hillside, the Lord's only daughter, Sasha, stared out from the window of the tallest tower. Sitting alone she watched the wind tear at the trees and the storm raging all around them. Although there was no glass for protection, her mink cloak, thrown hastily over her night robes, kept her warm. A single candle – placed carefully in a corner sheltered from the wind – provided her with a small flickering light. Apart from that and the stool upon which she sat, the tower room was bare and empty. It had been a library when she was a child, but some strange events had occurred and some accidents took place. The servants whispered that it was haunted. Eventually all of the books had been moved to another wing and the tower had been shut up.

But Sasha knew where her father kept the only key. On stormy nights when everyone else slept, the girl would slip out of bed, unlock the door and venture up the steep stone steps. There she would gaze out over the dark fields for an hour or more until the small flame flickered and died.

It had been a year, but still she waited. Ever hopeful that one day her lover would return to sweep her up in his strong arms and carry her away – just as he had promised. Although she knew it was risky, she had not been able to bear destroying his last letter, and had kept it carefully hidden away. But she remembered the words by heart anyway – Soon, my dearest love. Soon I shall return to your embrace and never again will anything ever separate us. One the darkest and most violent of nights, watch for me from the north tower. I will return for you, my love, and we shall be together forever.

There had been no more letters. Winter had passed into spring, spring had blossomed into summer and autumn had once again returned. But still Sasha could not stop the ritual, could not let go of the tiny hope that still sparkled in her heart.

The candle flickered its last, plunging the room into darkness. Sighing wearily, Sasha got up to go. Suddenly an odd sound reached her ears; the high-pitched whining of a stubborn horse, and the clattering of hooves striking cobblestones. Could it be? Hardly daring to hope, she rushed back to the window.

Far below her, a shadowy figure in a green soldier's uniform sat astride a black stallion, guiding the beast along the road to the castle with a steady hand.

“Earnest!” she cried out. Despite the noise of the elements he somehow heard her, and looked up towards her voice. Her cry of joy became a shriek of fear as she found herself looking not at the handsome face of her lover, but at a white grinning skull with strands of black hair clinging desperately to it. Half of his chest was missing, there remained only a gaping hole and a few ribs poking through.

“I have returned for you, Sasha. Come and be with me forever,” he pleaded, reaching his arms towards her.

Screaming, she fled from the window, the awful sight burned into her memory. But it was so dark and everything looked the same in her terror. Grappling for the door, aware of the hooves approaching, Sasha lost all sense of reason. She had to find her father, tell him everything... he would be so angry... but he would protect her.

“Sasha!” the voice called, mournfully. “I love you, dearest. I came back for you. Come and be with me, my love.”

Finding the exit at last, she stumbled down the stone steps... back to safety...

--------

The next morning, the maid was alarmed to find Sasha's bed empty. The blankets were rumpled and some clothes were missing, but the girl was nowhere in sight. The servants searched the whole castle but found nothing. When the cook ventured out into the courtyard, however, the mystery was solved.

Her beautiful young body lay battered at the bottom of the grey stone steps of the tower, her neck having been broken in the fall. The doctor was summoned, who concluded that death had been almost instant. Just a sad accident, everyone agreed, a stumble on the wet steps in the dark. But there were two things that no one could explain.

Why her glazed blue eyes held an expression of utter terror, or why – clutched in her tightly closed fist – were a handful of black hairs.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
If you had one wish – what would it be?

Childhood is all about wishes. “Blow out your candles and make a wish,” “Be good and Santa might bring you that new game you wished for”, “Speak to the fairies at the bottom of the garden and make a wish only they can hear”, “Say a wish out loud and the wind will carry it for you.”

So innocent.

No one ever said anything about a price. But for every wish that is heard and granted, there is something taken in return. Balance – that is the way of things. That price could be anything; maybe something you don't even realise that you need until it is no longer there.

Everyone in this world has something that they want. How many have made a wish casually out loud, not thinking about what they have said. And what if the price of granting that wish was the life of someone you cared for? A treasured belonging? Youth? Beauty?

What about if what was taken in return was your soul?

One wish. No rules, no restrictions. Next time you go to blow out those candles on your birthday cake, stop and think about it for a second.

What would you wish for? What would you be willing to sacrifice in return?
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
“Step up, place yer bets! We 'ave a treat for you tonight, folks.”

The tavern patrons paused in their conversation and card games, one or two even lowered their ale as the battle-scarred dwarvern bartender continued roaring excitedly. He knew that his clients were bored and restless, eager for any excitement no matter how depraved.

“A deathmatch right 'ere in our own pit. Borgan the Cruel – ruthless slayer of men, women and children - will take on blademaster Kane Theaza in a battle to the death. Only one can survive. Place yer bets now.” A cheer of approval went up amongst the crowd, for rarely were the fights so bloodthirsty.

As there was a sudden surge of activity, Cory Daemae sat alone in the corner chewing on a broken thumb nail. Only his best friend could be reckless and foolhardy enough to take on an opponent who was obviously some kind of half-giant; easily twice his size. 'How could you let him do this?' he could almost hear Valia lecturing him. That was hardly fair – as if there was anything he could have done to stop Kane. Rampaging minotaurs could not stop the reckless warrior once he got any kind of idea in his head.

Frowning, he watched the bored tavern rabble quibbling over the likely winner and fumbling drunkenly in their pockets for coins. Was life worth so little, he wondered idly, that destroying another in pitted combat was seen as no more than a sport? Of course the answer to that question was one he already knew. In a society where a few people had everything and most had nothing, those with nothing found solace where they could; in crime, alcohol, prostitution and senseless violence. This was just another night of ruthless entertainment, another attempt at finding some purpose in their lives. Cory could see the despair etched in their faces and he suddenly felt nothing but loathing for the city.

“Yer not betting tonight, half-elf?” the bartender gruffly asked, placing another tankard of ale on the battered and sticky wooden table. “Not like one of yer lot to hedge yer bets on a fight like this.”

“Doesn't seem fair to take your money, when I already know who will win.”

“Confident tonight, eh lad? Hopefully your boy won't get too cocky out there – Borgan sure ain't one ta mess with. Rumor has it he once took down three ogres single-handed.”

“I'm not worried,” Cory lied, though his slender fingers were dancing on the tabletop, absently tracing a brownish stain that could have been dried blood. “Kane has fought worse and survived.”

“Ah, true. I am countin' on him to give us a good show. But don't fool yerself: for every skilled warrior there is always one final battle.” Giving a grin that revealed many missing teeth, he picked up the empty glasses and elbowed his way roughly through the crowds.

“Thanks for that cheerful thought,” the young half-elf muttered to his retreating back. The dwarf spoke the truth, but that did nothing to calm his nerves.

Seeing that people were beginning to gather around the circular stone structure that served as the fighting pit, Cory abandoned his bitter-tasting ale and weaved his way through the throng of bodies. The smell of dirt and sweat was almost overpowering especially when mingled with the scent of blood rising from the pit. He was used to it, but it still made him feel a little sick. The spectators were getting rilied up, pushing each other and waving their fists in the air.

“Fight, fight, fight!”

Nimbly he ducked under a pair of flying arms and squeezed himself into a small gap right at the front. Although he wanted to be anywhere else but there, he knew that he had to watch.

The crowd temporarily fell silent as the challengers stepped into the pit. With his head held high, Kane gave off waves of confidence that were hard to ignore. The black outfit he wore – the armour cleverly crafted from the scales of a shadow dragon – complimented his pale skin, his wavy black hair and the dark eyes that burned with fire on the battlefield. Some rumours said he was a vampire and his reputation preceded him – he feared no one and turned down no challenge. With no regard for the whispers in the crowd, his eyes fixed solely on his opponent, sizing him up for weaknesses and not even giving the people a glance.

Borgan the Cruel was far too large in both height and build to be fully human. At over eight feet tall with broad shoulders and bulging muscles, his very presence seemed to fill the arena. One eye glared at his opponent and the eager spectators; the other was lost in the sea of scars that covered his face and framed a nose that had obviously been broken several times. The massive hairy hand that gripped a bloodstained hammer had two fingers missing.

He looked Kane up and down and his face twisted into a sneer. “Are you serious?” he proclaimed to no one in particular. “Too easy.”

“Appearances can be deceiving,” Kane said quietly, his voice cold but measured. He was very tense, Cory could see that his friend held his upper body stiffly. That was not a good start. “May the best man win.”

“Have at it,” the bartender roared.

Kane drew his swords from their scabbards with a hiss of steel and took a single step back, turning them in his hands. Borgan strode forward purposely, swinging his hammer with some force. There was a violent clash of steel on steel and Kane was knocked back slightly by the force of the blow. The half-giant pushed forward in an attempt to crush his opponent against the side of the pit, but Kane knew his plan and gave a sharp thrust of one blade. Although the blow was deflected, it gave him valuable seconds to spin away. Striking out again, he managed to find a vulnerable spot under the arm and pierced the flesh, drawing blood. Despite it being a superficial wound, Borgan roared with pain and hit out with his arm, catching the warrior in the face and knocking him sideways.

As the spectators cried out excitedly, Kane quickly regained his balance and wiped blood from his bottom lip. The hammer came down again and this time he avoided it – the gravity of the weapon took the half-giant off balance and so the warrior ducked under his arm and elbowed him sharply in the ribs. Winded, Borgan doubled up, although not before managing to headbutt his opponent in the face, before bringing his hammer around for another swing.

Cory found himself biting his thumb again, forced to watch as the two danced back and forth for what seemed like hours. Kane was faster and fought fluidly, but Borgan, although slower, seemed to have skin made of thick hide and nothing seemed to deter him for more than a few seconds. The pit was too small for Kane to constantly evade and eventually the hammer found its target, slamming into the warrior's chest with some force and knocking him back into the furthest wall.

As he struggled to his knees, on straw that was slippery with blood both recent and old, Borgan advanced gleefully, raising his weapon to bring it down for the final blow. The crowd hushed waiting eagerly for the kill. The only sound was the ragged breathing of the two combatants.

The hammer came down, and it was what Kane had been waiting for. He raised one long sword to stop the hammer and immediately launched into an offensive attack, hitting the half-giant's chin with the hilt of his second sword – and then taking advantage of his stunned state to hit his torso repeatedly with both weapons. Slowing down at last, he paused for a split second before forcing one blade up and through his eye socket. Borgan grunted and fell, causing the whole tavern to shake when he landed.

Kane retrieved his sword and turned to look at the audience for the first time. His hair was dripping with blood, his bottom lip beginning to swell and everyone could see an impressive bruise on his right cheekbone. He swayed as though he was about to fall, and Cory immediately turned and pushed through the cheering mob of bodies to get to his friend. Suddenly he felt strangely relieved that he had refused to bet; refused to have any part of such mindless violence.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
“So you are from London?” Sarah asked casually, as the two of us were washing up in the small kitchen of her little cafe. “It must be quite a change moving down to our little town.”

My heart started to beat faster. Sarah – a large, cheerful lady in her mid-forties – had taken me under her wing a few weeks before, when I had arrived in the cafe with nothing but a single suitcase to my name. Unsure of what to do and with nowhere to go, I had spent hours sitting by the window nursing a mug of hot chocolate... and at closing time she had approached me. She offered me the empty flat above the cafe for a few nights, and in return I helped her out during busy periods, and we had become friends. The living accommodation was basic and she could not afford to pay me much, but it was a new start. A chance to start afresh.

“My life there was very different,” I agreed evasively. That had been an understatement. My job there had been well paid and I had enjoyed the finer things in life. I had been close to my employers and had had a large group of friends, eaten in expensive restaurants, frequented art galleries and spent the weekends drinking and clubbing. I had been happy, or so I thought.

“Do you miss it?” Sarah wasn't a nosy person, but I could tell she was curious about the circumstances that had led to me being jobless and homeless in the middle of the countryside. It was hard; I felt guilty keeping things from her when she had been so kind to me, but I knew her opinion of me would change when she knew what I was running away from.

It still haunted me every night, but I needed to make a new start. My sister, my only living relative, had disowned me, and the people I had thought to be my friends had all disappeared. Why would a near stranger – even a friendly one – react any differently? No, I had to keep my secret and build a new life for myself.

“Sometimes, but things change. It is peaceful here.”

It was a nice little town. People knew each other and always said hello, though I held back from socialising. Sarah often tried to get me to go to the little pub on the corner in the evenings, but it felt too intimidating. Instead I spent a lot of time walking on the nearby beach, which was quiet most of the time. I could settle here, I often thought to myself while walking in the twilight. A new name, a new job, a place to live – surely everyone deserves a second chance?

Perhaps in time I could erase the past mistakes. Perhaps I could be happy again.

That was until I came down to open the cafe early one morning, still half asleep, and found the windows covered in pieces of paper. Unlocking the door, a cold chill spread through me as I saw the dozens of copies of a small newspaper article dated from the year before. The words Evil Bitch had been sprayed in red paint across the front of the door.

Someone had discovered my secret.

The newspaper article told how a twenty-four year old childminder had been charged with child endangerment, after her three year old charge had fallen down the stairs and suffered a broken arm and a head injury. The story went on to explain how she had been having sexual intercourse with her male employer at the time the accident occurred, and was suspected of neglecting the child on several other occasions to be with her lover. She had had her license revoked and received three months in prison.

My photograph was neatly displayed there for all to see. I had since dyed my hair brown and no longer wore make-up, but it was still unmistakably me. The childminder had been me. Young and naïve, I had been flattered by his attentions and allowed it to cloud my judgement – but there were no excuses for my actions. The result had been a badly injured child whom the doctors said had been lucky to escape brain damage, a devastated wife and mother, and a brutal and messy divorce.

I could recall the last words that Jessica – the woman I had regarded as an older sister – had ever said to me: “I will make sure that what you have done to me haunts you for the rest of your life.” I had no doubt that she meant every word. I had ruined her life, why would she not retaliate?

My only hope had been to start over, but how could such a thing ever be obliterated?

With tears leaking from my eyes, I turned around and went back upstairs, where I threw my few belongings into my battered suitcase. There was just enough time to slip out and get to the bus stop before Sarah arrived and saw the posters.

It was time to move on again. Maybe one day I could find the forgiveness I didn't deserve.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Night. A time for sleeping and for dreaming. Once the inky blackness descends, everything changes. Shadows become twisted and warped; tree branches reaching with claw-like fingers, a discarded bundle of clothes could be a person crouching in the bushes. Noises become amplified, footsteps echoing in the eerie silence. Bathed in the light of the moon and the twinkling stars high in the velvet sky, the world is mysterious and beautiful.

Close your eyes, and I will ensure they never again open.

I am the master of darkness, the stalker of shadows. I wear them as a cloak as I go on the hunt, tracking my prey while they are most vulnerable. Humans are weak in the night. I can slip into their homes undetected, to catch them while they are sleeping. My knife is sharp and I know where to strike; they never know what has hit them. Even those who are awake are easy targets. Their senses are compromised and they are easily afraid and startled. They can be tricked and manipulated, until they end up nothing more than a fly trapped helpless in the web of a spider.

Too easy.

Some attempt to hide, to disguise themselves elaborately, to surround themselves with traps or hire bodyguards. How many bodyguards will stand strong against a foe they cannot see, one who can appear invisible at will? Traps, disguises, even the most clever of hiding places will not prevent the inevitable. Nor will begging and pleading or bribery.

I am the scarred assassin, the bringer of death. I will hunt my prey to the very end of the world.

No one is a match for my blade.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
"All lies and jest still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

Everyone says they want honesty. It is basically a given – who wants any kind of relationship with someone who will lie?

Think about it.

"Well yes you are very fat, you already know that or you wouldn't be asking."
“Actually, I really hated that meal you just spent three hours cooking.”
“Wow, you have the ugliest baby I have ever seen.”
“That new haircut is awful.”
“You know, you are the worst lover I have ever had.”
“No, I don't want to date you because I find you physically repulsive and ignorant.”

Being autistic, but undiagnosed until I was 25 years old, I had to learn what a lot of people take for granted. I have no filter, so I often randomly say whatever comes into my head – regardless of how rude, embarrassing or un-PC it is. I try to think before I speak, and I don't mean to offend people, but it happens.

But the biggest problem, the thing I hate most, is when someone asks me a question. Especially “How are you?” I cannot tell you how much I loath people asking me that. In my mind, if you make that enquiry then you want to hear about my recent health issues and how my dog has been sick etc. etc. If you don't care, then don't ask!

Because I am no good at telling lies. It is neither easy or natural for me. I can't count how many times someone has asked me a question and then gotten upset, offended or even abusive because I have given them a direct and honest answer. Granted, sometimes my answer can be a bit more blunt and direct than they were maybe expecting. Over the years I have learned how to sometimes tell the truth in a more sensitive way, and I have also learned that sometimes it is better to just keep my mouth shut.

But I do not understand why so many people insist that they value honesty, and then throw a tantrum when they don't like what they hear. Or ask for advice and proceed to argue with it. What do they want from me?

Don't ask an aspie a question unless you want to hear an honest answer.

These days I tend to only let people in my life who understand that I am honest and direct, and sometimes unintentionally hurtful. I don't mean to be and will always apologise if I have said something out of line, but it happens. Interaction with people is not easy for me because I can't take the necessary time to think through every little word before it comes out of my mouth. The people who love me know that it is just something I struggle with and help me work out what is acceptable to say and what isn't.

I am slowly getting more confident. One day maybe I will be able to join in a group conversation without a huge amount of anxiety. In the meantime? I am who I am. If someone asks me a question, they will get an honest answer. If someone asks for my opinion, they will hear what I really think. If they want to take offence, that is their choice.

But in my experience, most people don't want to hear the truth, they only hear what they want to hear.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Trigger warnings for this one: Child abuse, rape, violence.

Possibly disturbing )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Kane Theaza groaned and opened his eyes. And then blinked and shook his head, confused. Everything was completely black. He raised a hand up to his face – nothing. What happened? Am I blind?

“It's all right,” Benny's voice was a reassuring sound in the darkness. “Jonas, can we have some light?”

There was a low murmur and finally a faint reddish glow pierced the thick blackness. Benny was kneeling over him, looking concerned. Jonas stood a little way back, holding his staff up to provide the light. He looked more than a little annoyed. Cory, the half-elven assassin, was sitting on the ground a little way off – his wrist roughly bandaged. Valia was looking around groggily, her face scratched and bruised.

“Glad to see our leader is awake and in one piece,” Riandur said drily. He and his smaller companion, Phellan, were over by a wall that Kane realised was made of rock. “I hope you are ready to hear some really bad news.”

“I...” Kane sat up, feeling a sudden stabbing pain in his ribs. “Where are we? What happened?”

“Well, here's the thing.” Benny sighed before reluctantly continuing. “You remember that dragon we were fighting? It went a bit crazy and brought the whole ruins down on top of us.”

“In short,” Riandur continued expressionlessly, “the entrance is blocked and we appear to be trapped down here.”

As the disorientation wore off, Kane was able to get a good look around him. They were in what appeared to be a series of small rocky caves. At one end was just solid rock, at the other was a pile of mud, stone and rubble. The roof was low, at six foot tall he could just barely stand up straight without hitting his head. “Oh rats!”

“Yep, that's what I figured,” Benny nodded, “they are way too big for mice.”

“What? Where?” Looking around the dark cave, Valia let out a piercing scream as she saw the furry black bodies slinking away. She hated small furry things with a passion.

Riandur charged after them, pouncing and spearing them both with his sharp claws. Within seconds both were dead. “We might want to eat these later.”

Valia, Cory and Jonas looked slightly sickened at the thought.

“Well, maybe we shouldn't jump to conclusions,” Benny tried to be the optimistic one. “Let's all search a bit of the cave and see if there's any exit before we all start panicking.”

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
There were always clothes to mend.

Whenever she sat down in front of the fire with a pile of torn clothes beside her, Valia would remember being a young girl and sitting in the warm kitchen beside her mother. Fascinated, she would watch the older woman cut and sew and effortlessly repair the garments worn by her two older brothers. “Boys will be boys,” she would say with an indulgent smile.

The plague had taken her mother's life, while the youngest of her two bothers had been killed by bandits. Estranged from her father and her other brother, Valia carried on with life the best she could – and continued with what she had been taught. She had boys of her own; not children, but her lover and the other men she travelled with.

They could look after themselves, but she did not like to think of that. She was no warrior. They tried to teach her to fight but she had never quite picked it up. She could not pick a lock or sneak effortlessly through the darkness. She could not hunt. Without them to protect her and feed her, Valia knew that she could never last in the wilderness.

But she could wash and mend clothes, cook delicious meals from whatever meat and vegetables they could find, and clean and dress their wounds. This she did willingly and happily with all the care and love that her mother had given to her brothers.

She liked taking care of them – her boys. It made her feel useful.

Because of the circumstances, it was impractical to carry too much extra baggage. Mostly what clothing they had was worn. So there were always things to mend.

-------

“Are you sure you don't mind doing that, Val?” Cory asked, his brow furrowed with concern as he watched her carefully stitch his cotton shirt. He had to admit, her careful handiwork was so much better than his clumsy stitching. “It's only a little tear.”

“It'll only get bigger if we leave it,” Valia said wisely, her slender fingers working busily. “I don't want you left without a shirt if this one tears any more.” She liked Cory – the young half elf always had time for her and was genuinely grateful for everything she did for him.

“Did your mother teach you to sew like that?” he asked, his blue eyes unusually solemn. She nodded, eyes fixed on her task. “I always figure that this must be like to have a mother.”

“Did you ever know her?”

“No, not really. She died when I was about three... but she was never around before then either. She had a job to do, and children born within the guild are raised almost – well, almost like property, I guess.”

“Can you fix my cloak, Val?” Pausing behind her, Kane gave her a brief kiss on the top of her top of her head in a rare display of affection. Not waiting for a reply, he dropped it on the pile and disappeared behind the trees.

Younger wolf man Phellan had been lying quietly, acting partly as Cory's pillow through the exchange. As his friend sat up to pull his shirt back on, the curious youngster glanced over to where his mentor was lying on the other side of the fire.

“Riandur? Why don't we wear clothes?”

Riandur – ever indulgent towards his young apprentice – did not laugh. “We don't need them, Phellan,” he explained kindly. “Our fur protects us from the sun and the cold, and having things on our bodies would just slow us down.”

“Oh,” Phellan looked a little downcast. Feeling sorry fr him, Valia put down her needle and thread.

“You know what, Phellan? Maybe you don't have clothes like us, but you are still wearing something – and that can be cleaned and mended just like Cory's shirt. So. I think it is time we gave you a bath!”

Phellan looked both pleased and alarmed. Cory couldn't help but smile. Across the fire, even he sombre Riandur grinned.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
To survive is just a basic human instinct. Nothing is too bad, too degrading or too difficult when there is no other option but death.

That was a lesson that Kane Theaza knew very well. It was something that he had learned from experience, and he had the scars to prove it.

Triggers: mention of violence and rape, non-graphic )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
“Cory?” Phellan called, as he watched his friend anxiously. “Are you okay?”

The young assassin nodded tensely, his concentration focused on easing his way across the rooftop. He was comfortable with heights, for his training had involved scaling high objects and working off the ground. Unfortunately it had been raining and the tiles were wet and slippery, so it was a struggle to keep his balance. Nonetheless Cory persisted, slowly getting closer and closer to the nervous cat, which sat perched on a nearby chimney watching him out of green eyes.

Just as he got close enough to grab at it, the beast took a flying leap, landed on a nearby wall, and jumped down into the street.

Cory cursed loudly.

*****

It had all started very early that morning. Cory had woken before sunrise and hadn't been able to fall back to sleep, so he had decided to take a walk around the city. Of course, Phellan had heard him go and immediately followed him.

The city was never silent, day or night, but those early morning hours were usually the most peaceful. The thieves and the prostitutes had finished their business and retired. Most citizens were still asleep. The taverns were mostly silent. Mostly it was just the market traders who liked to set up early, and the fishermen and the sailors who came in from the docks after a night at sea. So Cory enjoyed strolling around quietly, lost in his own thoughts or answering Phellan's many questions.

Walking in the alley behind the marketplace, Cory didn't see the little girl until he almost tripped over her. She couldn't have been more than six or seven years of age. She was wearing a pink dress and leather sandals on her feet, and her long blonde hair was pulled back into pigtails. The reason he didn't see her was because she was sitting on the dusty ground crying.

Immediately concerned, Cory knelt beside her. “Hey kid,” he said calmly. “Are you okay? You should be home in bed – won't your parents be worried about you?”

She looked up at him, her blue eyes shining with tears. “I've lost my kitty. She ran away, and now she's lost and I can't find her. She'll be so scared all alone.”

“Look, what's your name?”

“Elvira,” she sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Kitty is called Serenity. She has never been to the city before.”

“That's a pretty name. I'm Cory and this is Phellan. Would you like us to help you find your little cat?”

The girl looked up at him hopefully, “Can you do that?”

Cory smiled at her. “Sure we can. Phellan here has the best nose in the city. Do you have a toy or a collar or something that has your cat's scent on it?”

Elvira opened her hand to reveal that she was clutching a little blue collar with a bell on it. “Kitty dropped this when she ran off. I hope she is all right.”

“You just stay here, and we'll be right back.” Taking the collar from her, Cory held it out to Phellan. “Can you track it down?”

The wolf-man nodded and took off like a shot. Cory smiled at the little girl and ran off after him.

*****

After chasing the cat down from the rooftop, the two friends followed it to the marketplace. It was attracted by the fish stall, and they attempted to corner the creature there. Unfortunately it was too quick for them. Grabbing a piece of fish, it bolted into a back street. Phellan, unable to slow down, crashed right into the stall, sending bits of fish and plates flying all over the street. Cory fell over him, knocking over a pile of crates. The stallholders shouted at them as they picked themselves up and fled the scene.

Having sensed a rat, the cat gave chase, leaping over the boxes of rubbish that had been left outside all night. Phellan tried to avoid it too but his frame was too bulky and he didn't have the graceful movements of a cat, so some mess was unavoidable. Unfortunately he was so intent on chasing the cat that he failed to notice that his tail was sweeping the rubbish up and throwing it everywhere. Cory was just grateful that his training had taught him to be quick on his feet, for he had to duck his head and twist his body to avoid getting hit by it.

As the cat leapt over a wall, Phellan bounced upwards and finally succeeded in catching hold of its tail. The creature – a beautiful, sleek animal with markings of black and white – struggled and hissed, but the wolf-man managed to hang on until Cory caught up with them.

“Serenity seems like a very odd name for this cat,” the half-elf commented, as he picked her up and received a swipe on the cheek from a very sharp claw. “I think it is supposed to mean calm, peaceful – and this thing doesn't fit that description in the slightest.”

“I don't like that cat,” Phellan eyed the animal warily. “It scratched me. I don't think it wants to be friends.”

“No, I don't think it does.” Cory finally managed to restrain the fighting cat by wrapping it up in his cloak. “Still, the kid should be happy to have her back.”

*****

Little Elvira was waiting just where they left her. She had stopped crying, and was instead focused on playing some kind of skipping game using the cracks in the cobblestones.

“You found kitty!” she cried as Cory released the cat from his cloak. “Oh thank you, she must have been so scared, lost in this big city all alone.”

“I think she can take care of herself,” Phellan muttered, licking his scratch wound.

“Thank you for helping me. I don't have anything to give you, but you can keep kitty's collar.” Happily she scooped the cat up in her arms. “Come here, Serenity, you bad kitty! It is time to go home, this plane is too dangerous for you.”

As the animal rested contentedly in her arms, the little girl began to change. She grew taller, her features became twisted and deformed, her skin turned yellow and leathery. Her hands turned to claws while her legs fused together into a tail. A ball of light appeared, shimmering and growing until it became a door-like shape. Without a backwards glance, Elvira stepped through and the portal closed behind her with a faint whistling sound. Cory and Phellan were left frozen to the spot, unable to believe what they had just witnessed. Cory spoke first, in a strained voice that did not sound like him at all.

“Did I just imagine...?”

“No.”

“Did you see...?”

“Yes.”

Cory looked at Phellan. Phellan looked at Cory. Without another word, they turned on their heels and fled.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
There was never much greenery to be found in a large city. A few trees here and there, a small few patches of grass fenced off where the children sometimes play. Some of the wealthier estates had small gardens with brightly coloured flowers. But for those who wanted to experience nature without going outside of city limits, their options were limited.

There was one such place of refuge – at least for members of Howling Wolves assassin's guild. On the roof of the huge building that served as the hideout to their headquarters, the guild has created their own garden. Using a combination of nature and magic, they grew fruits and vegetables, various herbs for use in making poisons and antidotes, and a few bushes and plants – including batflowers, a plant that looked like it had multiple eyes, and a very large venus flytrap.

Benny could often be found there; when there were no targets for him to take care of and his friends were all safely occupied with other matters. He enjoyed all the noisy and buzzing activity of the city – up to a point. But when they stayed too long, he was overcome with a yearning to be back in the wild; where he could engage in his shapeshifting at will, roll in the grass as a cat, run through the trees as a graceful leopard, or howl at the moon as a wolf. In a world where there were no others like him – and more fear and mistrust than understanding – it was hard to balance his human side with his animal urges.

And even with good friends around him and a lover within the city, sometimes the assassin felt lonely. He would never admit it, even to himself, but it was what it was.

------

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
It had been hate at first sight.

From the moment Kane Theaza entered the Howling Wolves assassin's guild, recruited from the streets at twelve summers of age, he found a rival in Jonas. Both the same age, they loathed each other on sight. No one ever really knew why; though it was speculated that Kane was envious of Jonas' relatively stable upbringing within the guild, while Jonas was jealous of Kane's confidence and his ability to fight anyone and anything that got in his way.

“You are such a show-off,” Jonas muttered, having overheard Kane being praised for a nice bit of sword-work.

“And you are a stupid little creep,” the street-boy shot back, “and I know which I would rather be.”

“Your mother was a filthy whore!”

Kane laughed. “You are hardly one to talk. At least I knew who my mother was.”

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
“No boss, please – not the chair! I'll do anything, I swear! I'm innocent!”

The young man's panicky pleas could be heard throughout the main floors of the guild headquarters. Assassins paused in their training, those who were sleeping briefly opened their eyes, the ones who were eating stopped in their tracks. Then, registering relief that it wasn't their turn, they resumed their tasks.

“Seems like Lance is in trouble,” Kane Theaza observed, setting down his tankard of ale. “What's going on, Benny?”

The shapeshifter glanced around the table. The only others in attendance were the half-elven assassin Cory and Phellan the young wolf-man; Riandur hated the city and was hunting rats in the catacombs, Jonas was studying scrolls at the library, and Valia had gone shopping. Leaning forward, he lowered his voice.

“You know that smuggling job last night? It was a set-up. The guards got several of our boys and now they are in the city jail.”

“Someone betrayed us?” Cory asked, wide-eyed at the thought that one of their own men would turn against the guild. It was an unwritten but very strong rule that thieves watched out for their own, and backstabbing was never tolerated.

“It looks that way,” Benny said seriously. “The guards knew exactly who was there and what was happening, information that could only have been given to them by someone involved in the planning.”

Kane nodded, pondering this for a while. “What an idiot,” he said finally. “So Randal - ” referring to the cold, calm and highly effective master of the entire guild “- gets to do what he does best, huh? A few minutes on the chair will make them crack.”

Cory nodded, looking terrified. “No one could stay silent when faced with that thing. It is so scary.”

“A chair?” Phellan had been listening intently, but something was puzzling him. “Like what we are sitting on? What is scary about a chair?”

That was quite a question. Every man in the Howling Wolves assassin's guild knew of 'the chair'. Made from solid oak with a straight back and two thick arms, it did not look threatening at a glance. But a closer look would reveal the strong leather wrist and ankle restraints, the adjustable mechanism that could be adjusted so that the sitter could be gagged. Once restrained, varying degrees of torture could be used to encourage the subject to talk.

It had been in the guildmaster's chambers for as long as anyone could remember. They called it 'the confession chair' and many of the men had been subjected to it at one time or another. It was the ultimate punishment.

Kane, Benny and Cory exchanged a long look. “Want to take this one?” Kane directed at Benny.

The long-suffering man only sighed.
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
Why are we going here? What is a desert? Why is it hot? Doesn't the sun like us? Can I have some water? What is this yellow stuff? Why are we hiding in the dark? Why do they want to kill us?


The Bountiful Bosoms,” she read out loud. “What sort of name for a tavern is that?”
“It’s not a tavern, it’s a whorehouse,” Cory said absently without thinking. He quickly regretted it when Valia turned to him with a horrified expression.
“It’s a brothel?”
At exactly the same moment, he felt a nose nudge at his leg to get his attention. “What is a wh… whorehouse?” Phellan asked. The young wolf-man – new to the ways and the language of humans - had previously been content to lie quietly by Cory’s feet, but hearing a new word had aroused his curiosity too much for him to stay quiet. “Why is it not a tavern?”
“Well, it’s… it is like a tavern, but there are many women in there.” As he stumbled over the words, the half-elven rogue could feel his face heat up with embarrassment. “And those women can be… men give them money and the women do things for the men. Like sexual things.” Seeing that Phellan still looked confused, he added, “You remember when I explained how men and women made children? Well, they do that sort of thing.”

… …

Phellan had been thinking a lot about what Cory had said – it didn't all make sense to him, but he thought that he finally had it figured out. So he waited until the evening when the group had stopped to rest, and then hit Valia with his question.
“Are you a whore?”
Valia looked stunned. Across the camp-fire, Kane started to laugh. Benny raised an eyebrow and looked over at Cory, who hid his face in his hands.
“Where did you learn a word like that?” Kane finally spluttered.
“Well, Cory said that women who don't wear many clothes and who do things for the men are whores. So I thought that Valia must be a whore too, and she might know all about them.”
At this point, the young druid got up and fled into the trees, sobbing loudly. The men watched her go in silence, a silence that was only broken by Benny.
“I think further explanations are needed,” he said with a sigh.

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
It had just been innocent fun. Cory and Phellan had not meant to cause any trouble – and yet their inquisitive natures had gotten them into trouble yet again.

“Oh dear,” Phellan said sombrely, as he watched the monkeys they had accidentally released flee from the caravan. “This is bad, isn't it?”

“Yes...”

“Hey!” Jonas cried from somewhere outside. “A monkey just stole my staff! Cory – I know this has something to do with you.”

The half elf swallowed nervously. When he spoke, his voice was almost inaudible. “This is very, very bad.”

-----

“Run this past me again,” Jonas said bitterly. “Why do we have to round up these horrible creatures, when it was their fault - ” he glared at Cory and Phellan “ - that they escaped in the first place?”

“Because if we don't deliver seven live monkeys, we don't get paid,” Kane said impatiently. “And I haven't escort this caravan across thirty miles of wilderness just to lose our reward now.”

“But - ”

“Everyone takes one monkey,” Benny suggested, ever the voice of reason. “We need to round them up before they run off too far, or get eaten by wolves or bears. If we take one each, it'll be done in no time and no one will be any the wiser. Hey, think of it as a bit of light relief. We have fought dragons, zombies, vampires and giants recently - so how difficult can capturing a few monkeys be?”

As it turned out, it seemed that he had spoken a little too soon...

Read more... )
i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
The piece of parchment was pinned right in the middle of the adventurer's guild noticeboard, its placement intentionally obscuring several older jobs. The request was written in bold, strong lettering but it had a rather frantic element to it:

Urgent! My only daughter had been kidnapped by a vampire lord and taken to his castle in Witchwood. Large reward for any adventuring group brave enough to bring her back to me.

“So what is the deal with this one?” Kane Theaza asked the half elf who just happened to be in charge of the guild that day.

“Ah, that one only came in the morning. Lord Elgetor Armorsmith is convinced that his daughter has been kidnapped. She disappeared at some point yesterday evening and then a threatening note was left on her father's doorstep this morning. He is offering a lot of gold, a special weapon from his personal armoury and a plot of farmland to anyone who can find her and bring her back. But Witchwood is reported to be cursed, so I doubt there will be many takers.”

The raven-haired warrior grinned. “Can I see that threatening note?”

-----

Read more... )

Profile

i_love_freddie: (Default)
Silver

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28 293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 21st, 2017 02:47 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios