• Graded • Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Fate and Forgiveness

This is a city located on the coast of western Idalos and stands as a pillar of light against the dark cliff faces surrounding it. Ne'haer is considered a port city for ships as well as the last stop for most seafarers adventuring to locate the Iulure Isles. For this, it is nicknamed "Death's Door". In contrast to its nickname, this city focuses mostly on religious values and rituals for the protection of the immortals watching over their city. Ne'haer is also a city booming with trade and nobility, as well as jobs and plenty of opportunities to advance in skills and crafts.

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Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:47 am

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Where Least Expected
20 Ymiden, arc 718
Had there been a bump, or a noise, to account for the vibration in the mirror, it would still have not explained how only a small portion of the reflected image was affected. Finn had seen the far wall behind him shimmer like a heat mirage in the vision. The portion with the empty chair, the wall hanging and the potted plant all quivered visually, while the table with the candle, the end of the bed and the pots and pans awaiting scrubbing on the counter lay as still as the dead.

Was there a neighboring couple arguing on the other side of the wall, he may have thought a thrown plate or book had just been ducked by a guilty spouse to hit the wall directly behind the trembling image. But there was only silence. Still, his eyes were now drawn to the spot. As he watched, the wavering distortion became focused. It no longer shook, but rather formed its convex effect into the outline of a man.

It seemed as though the wall itself bubbled outward to wrap and outline the shape of the figure stepping into the room. But the wall color gave way to the countenance and colors of a healthy flesh tone encompassing the top half of an impressively muscled man; the lower tier shaping into khaki shorts and strong, if not bulging, legs and sandalled feet.

Whether Finn turned to face this visitor or stared into the mirror in some semblance of disbelief, the figure behind him gave no aura of threat. "Do not be alarmed, Finn Ashbroken. It is peace I seek to bring, not recrimination or verdict. Tell me, if a garden has one row overflowing with vegetables, several that are of middling yield, and one row of dry, withered stalks, which are the rows that draw the most attention?"

He did not wait for an answer before confirming, "The most and the least, of course. The most to see what it is that makes it so successful, that it may be shared, and the least to see what afflicts it, that it may be healed. My awareness is naturally drawn to acts of great forgiveness. But it is equally drawn to where it falls into emptiness. While the wielder of such gracious acts may be recognized and rewarded for their inclination, the one that struggles to embrace it is the one that most truly needs it. That is why I am here."

Ymiden did not bid Finn to follow or rise. He simply sat as the mirror that had first hinted at his arrival began to grow to engulf the wall on which it hung. As the reflected image grew further to engulf the room, a small, repeating reflection, gave the impression of stretching off into a repetitive infinity, for a second mirror now hung on the opposite wall to reflect the reflected reflection.

But there was change within the repetitions as the image in the second mirror altered to become a street in a distant city, where a dark-haired woman walked happily, going about her business. If Finn tried to leave, he would only find himself upon the same street; upon the same walkway a block away where a second woman now approached the dark-haired woman.

She too, was dark of hair, yet wisps of gray added to a subtly haggard face; one whose lines were borne of grief and regret, rather than toil and weather. Her age was sufficient to lay the foundation for the imprints of tribulations that marked her. But it was more a world-weariness and loss of purpose that hunched her shoulders and dragged her feet along the cobblestones.

By the time the second woman came within easy hearing distance, an odd blend of dread and hope both brightened and darkened her face. A war of emotions was written in the tension there, as the first woman now closed the distance, only becoming aware of her presence by the contrast of her statuesque stillness amid the flowing citizenry around her.

Tears suddenly erupted from Carlene Varlich's weary eyes as she sank to her knees before Faith...

Ymiden turned to Finn, "Here now, is an opportunity for a lesson in forgiveness."
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Where Least Expected (Han, Faith)

Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:58 am

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20th Ymiden, 718
The seasonal weather was warm, the sun shining and it always made people feel better, Faith thought. The bright sunlight, the warmth, it gave a sense of renewed vigour - of hope, she supposed. It meant, also, that people were less wrapped up in layers of clothing, less inclined to hide behind woolen scarves and hurry to their destination. So it seemed, as she smiled in greeting to people she knew or who knew her.

Walking through the streets of Scalvoris walked a young woman. Faith Augustin was short, just short of five foot four, and she was slight of frame too. Her long jet black hair was tied back from her very pale face. She wore a knee length red skirt and a strappy black top. That meant that the tattoos she had were visible, of course. Each wrist had an intricate black tattoo wrapped around it, as did her neck. They were visible and might even seem to be appropriate with her black nails. The other tattoo visible to be seen was a willow tree, the leaves and branches of which was visible.

Perhaps most unusual thing about the young woman, who seemed to be maybe twenty, but probably not if one could judge by appearance, was her eyes. Silver grey they had always been, but now framed in deep ruby made them noticeable and rather striking. Wearing sensible, flat shoes and with a sword worn at her hip, the young woman had a quiet, calm sense to her.

In truth, Faith was rushing. She seemed always to be, these trials. She'd just finished her shift at the Order of the Adunih and she had class in a few breaks. She wanted to get home and see the twins for that time; spending time with her children delighted and amazed her and she did it at every opportunity she could. There just weren't as many opportunities as she'd like. Still, she smiled to herself at the thought of getting a break or two now where she could play with the children, be with them.

Faith was focused on getting home, it had to be said. So much so that she didn't see the woman in front of her until the last moment. Faith had a medic's eyes and she looked at the woman before her with such. She looked tired, haggard, like she wasn't eating properly - and then she looked up at the woman in front of her and it all became clear.

Carlene Varlich. The woman who had killed Faith. Her murderer.

Faith saw her and saw her start to fall to her knees and the young servant of Famula acted, not thinking or concerned for anything other than to help the person in front of her. As Carlene started to descend to the floor, Faith moved to catch her. If she needed to, she'd end up kneeling on the floor with her, but either way, she put her hands out and tried to steady the woman with her arm. "Here, I've got you," the diminutive young woman didn't seem likely to be able to hold up the older woman, but she was wiry and deceptively strong - for her size.

"I'm so sorry," Faith said, genuinely. "I've been meaning to come and see you. Come on, why don't we go and sit, there look," she motioned to a small cafe with an outdoor area, there were some secluded seats and Carlene would be able to get privacy and a warm drink. "And we can talk, yes?" If Stig's mother would do so, Faith would lead her there, and order them both a drink before sitting and putting her hand on Carlene's, serious eyes regarding her and just allowing her to talk. Or to be silent, depending on what she needed.
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I believe that's the date we agreed? But I'm truly not invested in it and if a different one is better, I'm chill!
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Where Least Expected (Han, Faith)

Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:03 am

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The Immortal of Forgiveness smiled at the developing scene, nodding to himself as the younger woman showed no sign of resentment toward the crumpled form before her. "You see, Finn?" he said to the mortal beside him. "There is no need for retribution where genuine regret exists. The woman punishes herself...As do you. I do not say that recognition of such moral debt is uncalled for. But there often comes a point where one becomes inured to the pain they inflict upon themself, as atonement. Then, the satisfaction they gain, in seeing the "guilty" punished, becomes a private pleasure they cling to long after their debt is paid."

Ymiden looked down at Finn, to see if there was any sign that the mortal was understanding his point. It was early yet, and unlikely there would be some grand epiphany so soon. He looked back to the two women. Carlene rose from her knees. Even though her tears became stronger, the kindness of the younger woman, whom she had assumed would have nothing but hatred toward her, brought a cleansing aspect to them that Ymiden could easily see.

"You do not know the story here, Finn. The younger woman, Faith, was attacked by the older one's son. There were others involved, but he came to loathe the evil of his actions and took steps to thwart the crime. He still was taken to jail, for past crimes. Faith's own testimony inspired the court's leniency in sentencing. But Faith has an identical twin, who killed the jailed son in horrible fashion, and was seen. Wrongly, but understandably identified, Faith was brought in to be questioned, and the mother there, who was in the jail at the same time, attacked her. She was even dead for a moment but was miraculously revived."

As a fellow Immortal, Ymiden did not see it as his place to announce the champions of another to anyone, mortal or otherwise. "The truth became known, and the mother now knows she very nearly killed an innocent woman. And one with newborn twins yet. Of course she feared the vengeful attitude most would hold in such a circumstance; a lack of forgiveness. Yet she had the courage to face her, ready to accept whatever debt Faith would decide."

He watched as his own serenity was mirrored in the behavior of the young woman, offering only help and support to one most would have reviled and rejected, if not worse. He did not look down to Finn this time as he spoke, instead keeping his eyes fixed on the two women as they found a table at a sidewalk cafe. "But Faith, as a mother herself, understood the drive of such a woman, now robbed of her only child, at an age where hope of another is all but gone."

Though it was Finn to which he'd made his presence known, it was easy to see that Faith was as much a focus of his presence as he was. Ymiden's gaze followed the two women as he spoke. "Many there are that find forgiveness an easy thing to bestow, Finn Ashbroken." the Immortal began, turning that gaze to him now. "As there are many that find it elusive to embrace, or reject it outright. Some cling to their anger, holding forgiveness to be a coward's excuse not to strike back at those that have injured them. They do not yet understand the purpose of forgiveness. It is not to spare wrongdoers a punishment they deserve. It is to spare the injured one the ongoing pain they do not. Those that embrace forgiveness are neither cowardly nor weak. You need to learn this truth."
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Han has had comp meltdown and says he will not be able to keep up. Finn had a PSF ticket requesting Ymiden's mark. Edits have been made, and Finn will replace Han.
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Where Least Expected (Han, Faith)

Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:54 pm

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Faith was completely unaware of what was going on and who, in fact, was watching her. As strange as perhaps it might seem, she would not have paid much attention even if she did - because Carlene Varlich needed her focus right now. Helping the woman to rise, she simply held on to her whilst she sobbed. There were a hundred emotions running around Faith in this moment. Forgiveness and understanding were fundamental to her very nature, but equally she did not ~ and indeed could not forget. The feeling of cold, of fear and regret for Padraig. Of what death had felt like - she did not forget those. They were weapons in her arsenal. Not that Faith was a violent woman, nor would she ever be, but to stand up for what was right required a strength, a level of scrap that no amount of slavery could beat out of her. It never had.

"Come on, that's it." She led Carlene to the table and the two of them sat together. Stig's mother was silent, even once her sobbing had ceased. Faith held on to her hand and she just allowed that silence to be for a while. There was no harm to be had in it, in many ways it was a healing thing. After a few moments, and the ordering of two cups of tea, Faith spoke in her usual soft voice. "You look like you aren't eating," she said, quiet and gentle. "You should, if you can." Carlene shook her head, a flash of emotion in her eyes which Faith was frankly glad to see. "I can't. It turns to ash in my mouth. I.. what I did, what I've lost. Who.. who have I become?"

Faith considered her words and then, keeping hold of Carlene's hand, she spoke. "You've become someone you never thought you could. Harder, more unbending. You've drawn yourself in until you feel like your soul is the smallest, darkest ball and you are afraid that you will never truly smile again." Carlene looked at her and a frown deepened her brow. The woman in front of her was barely a woman at all - she looked maybe twenty, but maybe not. "How do you... know?" The older woman's voice was a whisper.

Silver eyes, tinged with ruby and filled with empathy and her own pain behind that, looked at Carlene as Faith's lips lifted in a smile which served only to emphasise the sorrow behind her words. "I know only how I felt when we lost our daughter." Carlene's eyes widened slightly and Faith squeezed her hand. This was not about her, this was about the woman in front of her and she told her about Rose simply to explain that she understood the grief Carlene felt. "You held him as a baby, taught him as a child and watched him as a man. You would do anything for him and now? Now you have the hardest job of all." Carlene had not spoken till now, but at the thought that she had something to do, something that was a job, something to hold on to? She looked at Faith with a glimmer of hope.

"What is that?" Faith sighed slightly, and spoke in a tone which was almost apologetic. "What you would expect of him, had the tables been reversed. You have to live. That isn't what you're doing right now. If you and he had swapped places, what would you want him to do?" Carlene shook her head and started to cry again, and Faith held on to her hand, saying no more for a moment. After a while, Carlene spoke and asked was seemed to be a basic, fundamental question. "How do I do that?" Faith looked at her, quite genuinely. "Well, it starts with accepting what happened. Never liking it, always wishing it hadn't. But it did. He died and in your grief you did what any mother who loved her son would think of." Would they all do it? No, Faith didn't think so. But that wasn't the point. "You can't change it, and I would be a most dreadful hypocrite if I held it against you. I have acted rashly many many times, for far less reasons. You can't change was was, as much as you might wish you could." Carlene shook her head. "Can you ever forgive me?"

Faith smiled and squeezed her hand. "I already did. It's you who needs to forgive you." Carlene descended, once more, into a fit of sobbing and Faith held on to her hand and just gave her what comfort she could.
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:30 pm


The contrast was as stark as his experience over the past arc and just as stunning and disturbing at the same time. Stillness among life and forces beyond his knowledge intruded upon his peaceful time alone. He was fascinated with the sight, however. Yet without a chance of wondering further about the source of that friction in the fabric of reality, Finn saw a miracle happen. One that put him on his path around a decade ago. A man who he blamed once for his own failure to only come to worship him with every living cell in his body.
His riddle rang in his ears and like a hungry student he listened to the answer, turning around to lay his eyes upon the man he has not seen for countless arcs. Ymiden was the one whom Finn's faith made real each time he felt lost - be it shortly after converting from the chaotic and raging mindset, or the still poisoning silence after his mentor's death.
Much like Finn's own mind, a reflection upon reflections over actions, thoughts and neglects, the room transformed and further took his breath away. The ease of altering the world around him stunned Finn, but it did not frighten him. Unlike any other Immortal, Finn felt at ease in Ymiden's presence even if the reason for him being here eluded the priest for now. Drawn by the images, Finn stepped closer to them but not through the mirror. Something in his mind that was still connected to the laws of physics and solid objects stopped him from walking through something that a moment ago was a solid barrier.
The two women were not familiar to Finn, but the blunt differences between both struck him like a clear midnight light. As it always did, Finn's heart and mind reached out to the older woman, to the one who seemed to have been suffering for much like Ymiden said, something ailed her and it was Finn's duty to alleviate that pain. His hand reached out on its own as he saw the woman collapse and he made that extra step that took him through the mirror. Alas, the older woman was safe in the arms of the younger one.
She was a striking beauty, one of those that Finn could not help but look at to understand. She bore tattoos and fashion which complemented one another but rather than a fascination with the physical, Finn felt drawn to the air around her. Something that felt familiar and desired all at the same time. The sense of complete, inner peace which he has achieved on fragile terms that could still be broken, this woman seemed to posses almost naturally.
Ymiden's following words struck a cord in Finn that he thought was long silenced. Why did he go on the pilgrimage? It was not to run away from the emotions. It was to bring them back, to punish himself with the past and the perceived failures. Why did he return to the hotlands? To his home settlement now long gone? To relive the past where he lost everything as a child and forever thought that it was his fault. Why risking returning to Yaralon but failing to confront the true demon residing there? Because the pain was too much to bare but the sense of it satisfied Finn just like Ymiden said. Has he truly not advanced on his own journey for forgiveness over the past arcs? Has he truly been stuck in the same spot just dulling the pain and thinking it nirvana achieved? Has his own profession been a distraction from the ultimate goal?
He listened to the Immortal of Forgiveness recount the history between the two women. He could feel his throat tighten much like it would with overwhelming sense of awe. The true forgiveness of not handing out judgement upon someone who has committed the most horrible crime against you. But what if there were no more survivors to forgive you? What if the ones where Finn could seek this freedom from were either long gone or Finn was afraid to face? Was he destined to live in the masochistic cycle of punishing himself forever now that it was awoken again? A devastating frown settled on his brow as Finn tried to control himself and understand the storm that was happening within him. His hands were going between tight fists and release, mirroring the tension he was struggling with.
They do not yet understand the purpose of forgiveness. It is not to spare wrongdoers a punishment they deserve. It is to spare the injured one the ongoing pain they do not. Those words rang in Finn's head as they were spoken, like bells toiling the news. It was a truth he has always known but found it hard to embrace for he believed he was a wrongdoer that did not deserve to be set free of his crime. He struggled to believe to be the injured one despite his past being the testament of it. He shut his eyes tight and the first line of a tear rolled down across the hints of wrinkles and down his cheek. The journey he thought was complete now revealed a new path that like floodgates opened a tidal wave of realization and personal misguidance. He never learned to believe that he was deserving of forgiveness. He has only forgiven those who have wronged him and allowed them to be set free. But for his own actions, he sought that elsewhere, not within himself as he should have. Each time, it was a task quite scary and almost impossible. So he patted the monster of guilt warily and turned its back to it thinking it would ease its gnawing on his mind.
Finn didn't need to see the women to hear their exchange. He only needed to hear the words. The ones he would hope to hear as well. Maybe from the family of small Tati who perished in the fire. The only soul he truly regretted and blamed himself for the most. Those were the words he knew could bring solace to anyone - but would he be able to say them to himself and believe in their power? One of his hands turned into a hard fist in the last attempt of self control whilst the other went to rest over the upper half of his face. His quiet grief was much smaller in scale of physical demonstration to the older woman's, but the inner raging probably equally as magnificent.
"I tried." He whispered. "I tried...so hard." The desperation has returned to his voice but unlike the first time when they met in Desnind, it lacked the force of anger and fear it used to possess. "How can I even call myself your follower, let alone a priest of your faith if I fail to do this?" Emotions coupled together and Finn realized he hasn't mourned properly for any souls lost over the arcs, be it the slaves and servants who burnt in Yaralon or his mentor who died an arc ago.
He then looked up at the only man in Idalos that Finn wanted to impress the most, feeling like he wasted his time. Finn's eyes were brimming with tears that refused to fall. "I want to do this. I thought I did. I have forgiven others, but myself..." an expression of turmoil and pain settled over his features that contorted for a moment. "...myself I still hold responsible with no margin for relief."
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They do not yet understand the purpose of forgiveness. It is not to spare wrongdoers a punishment they deserve. It is to spare the injured ones the ongoing pain they do not.

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Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:44 am

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Ymiden smiled down on his troubled believer. "All things in stages, Finn. The fact that you can find forgiveness for others, in a world so filled with greed and malice, already sets you above the majority of those who walk it, mortal and Immortal alike. It is to your credit. You say yourself that you have tried. I ask no more than this of anyone. Do not let the seeming failure of these efforts prevent you trying again."

He looked again to the two women, their emotions growing more alike with each tear. The one, happy to be bringing the other up from misery, the other happy to know that her misguided actions did not rob the world of such grace. "In fairness, no two lives follow the same paths. And there are vast differences between your two. She already bears marks. Many may cite this as cause of a..."safety"...in being so magnanimous. That she has the protection that allows her to trust that such kindness will not open a path for betrayal."

He indulged a single shake of the head in sadness for those afflicted with such pessimism. "And they each have the benefit of being able to face their counterpart in the episode I just described. So often it is all too easy to assume that others think the worst. If a man steals bread to feed his family, he most likely envisions the store owner as a copper-counting miser, just waiting to enact vengeance upon the thief. Yet it may well be that this vendor was a man burdened in his youth to commit a similar act, and now feels the sting of unrequited justice. Maybe he would rejoice in the balance of atonement to have someone return the 'favor'. He may take this thief out to buy clothes for his children did he but know his name."

He looked again to Finn, his gaze seeming to pierce the unspoken, yet holding no reprimand, "For he knew personally the background the drove this thief to such necessity." After a brief pause he turned back to Faith and Carlene, but the streetscape shimmered and distorted, turning an oddly green spectrum, "Let us now see a new fold on this woman's story; one that may hold meaning for you as well. Do you know of the city of...Athart."

The pause was pointed, as if even the Immortal of Forgiveness found it difficult to speak the name without some measure of judgment. The green mottled swirls resolved into vine-draped towers and jungle growth among and around a great city. Great foliage offset grand architecture, and great glamour of winged might denied even the meanest vestige of mercy on the dirty, grounded masses trudging beneath their scorn and brutality.

It was difficult to tell the season, Athart being far to the south of Yaralon. But such details quickly fell to insignificance as the cruelty of slavery came to the forefront of the image, focusing upon one young girl, beaten for not anticipating a command, then beaten for being so presumptuous as to think she had the wit to know what her superior would ask of her, slapped for not toiling as a good slave, kicked for performing the wrong task.

The avriel taskmaster hissed and moaned to some nonexistent power above that his patience was overly taxed with such wretched filth as this child, and sent her below to retrieve the mops and buckets for a crew to clean where his fellows made obvious effort to spill their mess to excess. Those slaves that looked in longing upon even these spilled leavings, collecting dust and flies, were given pitiless glares just daring them to commit such insolence, and feeding their vindication in their belief that this hesitance to do so proved them beneath contempt as cowards.

Ymiden patted his hand on Finn's shoulder, "I would have you know it is difficult, even for me...But let's see what comes of this. With some focus and insight, Finn may have perceived that this child was the same girl, now a woman, and showing such mercy to the older woman now sitting in a sidewalk diner in Scalvoris. "She had no marks at this early stage of life. Perhaps her background is not so different after all."

The image in Ymiden's mirror follows the child down dank, shadowed tunnels below the streets, where the waterline encroaches in seepage. All is silent...or should have been. An echo of a voice, maybe two, catches her ears, and she investigates. It is only because the voices are not avriel, or words spoken in their tongue, that she dares this intrusion. As she nears a vent in the wall, all she hears is a hiss, softly instructing someone to be silent.

The girl calls out "Hello? Is somebody there?"

A voice calls back, low, hoping to avoid being carried up the tunnel, "Go away."

Genuine concern for such a serious breach of protocol evokes her response, "You shouldn't be down here. You'll get in trouble."

"They already are! And so are you, you little scout! Don't try to deny it! That was why you wouldn't do your chores. You knew you'd be sent down here!" shouts a voice of satisfied malice as the avriel taskmaster that had sent her below appears, eyes gleaming in anticipation of terrible punishments to deliver.
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Where Least Expected (Han, Faith)

Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:38 pm

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The child she had been kept her silver eyes to the ground. "This slave is worthless, Master." It was the only acceptable response and though the world spun from the beating she had taken, the child who had no name, for they were slaves and owned only what was given to them, moved to where she was directed. The slave moved to get the mops and buckets, focusing on her hands, not the pain in her face, her legs and her side. Yet there was no anger in her, no thought that she should not be treated such. They owned her, after all, and therefore they could do with her as they pleased. So, the slave made her way down to the storeroom. The tunnels were filthy and dank, the shadows seem to jump out at her, but she is not afraid of the darkness.

Darkness, after all, is where she lives.

The slave moves her way, searching for what she is looking for and then she stopped at the sound. There should not be a sound. Yet, none of the Masters would be down here, it was beneath them to crawl as vermin, that was why they had slaves like her. Yet there was, without doubt, a sound. The slave child with no name who would grow into the free woman called Faith frowned and strained to listen. "Hello," she called, "is someone there?" Maybe it was a test by one of the Masters, or some such. She did not know but she listened and then, came the reply.

"Go away."

Just those two words, but the girl knew what they meant. This would be something which they were killed for if they were found. A breach in protocol so great that even the feared whip would be the least of their worries. "You shouldn't be down here," she implored. "You'll get in trouble!"

And then, without thought or question, she fell to her knees as the Master spoke behind her. He believed that she had failed in her chores because she wished to be sent down here, "Master, this slave..." this slave what? If she said that it was not her, then he might believe her - because she would be telling the truth - but then what of these others? They needed to have time to escape. If the Masters caught them, then they would all suffer the fate which was now, for her, inevitable. The child who would grow into a woman who became a wife and mother did not in that moment understand the compassion she felt for all fellow beings, did not recognise that the core of her being was to drive for equality, fairness. It was acceptable for the Masters to do what they would with her, but these others?

"This slave is worthless, Master," she whispered and she thanked Famula that she was already kneeling for she hit the ground hard when the back of his hand struck her. As she had been taught to do, she pulled herself up and intoned. "Thank you for the lesson, Master." His fury, though, his treatment of her and his fury towards her would buy them time so, as he turned to her with a look in his eyes which made the young woman think that maybe this was the time when her owner would kill her, she clamped her mouth shut and did not make a noise. The blows rained down, but she did not speak a name and with every assault upon her, the unnamed slave thanked Famula for the time bought for the others.
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"I understand," the woman who had been that child spoke in a soft and careful voice to this grieving soul, "that it is easy to hate, to blame. It's human nature. Maybe the nature of all mortals. But it is a small, quiet temptation in a dark world. Forgiveness, true forgiveness comes when you forgive yourself."

Unbidden, a memory popped into Faith's head and ~ thanks to the blessing of Vri which meant that she never forgot anything, remembering each event in exact detail ~ she wondered what had happened to those souls. Because of course, the story hadn't ended there and in the events which followed, she'd not really had the chance to explain to them.

Had they ever forgiven her, she wondered but her mind was distracted when Carlene lifted her head and smiled, just a brief and tear-stained smile which was a strained expression but a real one. "I don't know how to start," the older woman said and Faith smiled. "Well, just start at the beginning."
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
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Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:17 pm


Much like in the past, he would overcome a failure and tackle the challenge head on again. But it was all the much harder when for arcs he believed that he’s been succeeding to suddenly realize that all his efforts were nothing but subconscious cowardice. However, as they looked at each other, Finn gave a singular nod much like a child would give to a father when reason made it past emotions. His hands rose to rub the eyes to try and either push the tears out forcefully or dissipate them over his eyeballs. It left the skin wet, but at least none travelled down his own aged skin to leave a salty another trail.
Finn could see why and how the woman would bear marks of any Immortal. It was the air about her that he noticed first and foremost when he saw her moments ago. It almost went without saying. And it got the priest wondering. Just what would one have to do to bear a mark? How would one achieve such an honour? It was not a question of power for him, but a declaration of the utmost belief in an Immortal. The ultimate dedication to the domain and the worship. The representation of the Immortal’s will walking on Idalos. The manifestation for the believers and non-believers alike that Immortal indeed cared and noticed if one walked the right path. Would he ever be worthy? Could he even dare to hope for such a distinction?
His thoughts of marks were interrupted as he felt the eyes of the Immortal upon him and even without fully taking in the gaze. Ymiden's words alone pierced far enough to hit the target right in the centre. Understanding the driving emotions behind actions was something that Finn understood for himself. He knew why he killed his master. He knew why he exploded back in Desnind. Yet oftentimes, trying to grasp the motivation of another was a tricky task to fulfil. The driving forces were complex and not everyone was willing to divulge let alone untangle them. The priest shook his head in sober atonement as the world around him began changing once more.
Finn’s breath caught in his throat when he saw where they arrived. His initial response was to turn away and leave.
Athart…
A place he visited with his master and later on with his mentor. Each time, he entered with anxiety, heavy heart and fear. He did not like that place. Its ways, culture and customs eluded him and he struggled to accept them in the past. It pleased him that even Ymiden did not find it an easy task. A gulp of unease tore at his suddenly dry throat. His greys bounced from the roofs to the walls, to the face of the arrogant Avriel. At last, his gaze landed on the girl. No need to say more as surprise overtook him. She was a slave as well…
She needn’t be more from then on. The dignity of her stance as a woman, the attributes she possessed, her marks, they were all gone with that simple fact that they shared similar past. She was like him once. Or as close as they could get. And with each hit landing on her young frame, Finn could feel it on his own skin tenfold. He knew this was the way of the Avriel. The cruel and unforgiving nature that forged them to believe in their superiority. In his heart, he understood that. But still, he could not stop but feel the anger rising within himself at the injustice. He wanted to step in, cast a protecting hand over the girl so she wouldn’t suffer any more at the hands of the brute. However, it was all but a memory which could not be changed. So when the vision inside the tunnels unfolded, Finn suffered inside.
"Why Ymiden? Why this particular moment? She has sacrificed herself as a child and was willing to undergo a beating so the others could live. Is it acceptance you want me to understand?"
Finn shifted, uncomfortable. His body asked the question where the words felt out of place. How much longer did they have to stay?
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They do not yet understand the purpose of forgiveness. It is not to spare wrongdoers a punishment they deserve. It is to spare the injured ones the ongoing pain they do not.

~ Ymiden
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Where Least Expected (Finn, Faith)

Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:48 am

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As a viewer, Finn was not spared the cruelty of the ensuing inquisition. The boy who would have led the escape was not spared the rod, nor was the girl spared the anguish of being ordered to inflict the beating, as he was questioned. If the strokes did not meet the inquisitor's satisfaction, he beat them both and she was made to resume. Eventually, it was acknowledged that the boy was beyond recovery. This did not end the ordeal for her. She was made to continue until the remains were grisly enough to merit being hung in the slave children's mess hall, as an object lesson.

Her own beatings had, of course, been calculated to leave no permanent marks. It led to assumptions of "collaboration with the enemy" in the eyes of the other slave children. But there were other details for Finn to know; many that had forever been denied Faith. Ymiden looked with an immeasurable patience to Finn, "Forgiveness is acceptance even when you do NOT understand. There is much about this episode that even Faith herself does not yet understand, let me show you."

The Immortal led his disciple through several rooms, following the course of one seemingly random child after another. It was all to reveal yet a further degree of ugliness connected to Faith's punishment. The Immortal watched the children in the slaves' mess as he spoke, "You left unspoken a question a short while ago, Finn. You would ask what can you do when you are unable to face those from whom you would have forgiveness; like Faith was able to face Carlene Varlich. How about if you did not even know from whom you would ask it?"

The first of many children came to sit or stand by Faith with no particular attitude, friendly or not. "This child is taken later for questioning. The avriel masters did not reveal Faith's part in the foiling of the escape attempt. So any that are not hostile to her are suspected of going to her for possible runaway schemes in the future." There followed a quick montage of others. The Immortal's voice was grim as he confirmed that all were taken for similar questioning.

Other children were more hostile to her. The Immortal's expression did not change. "These others are taken as well. The avriel know that only those that were present when the leader was captured would know of Faith's part. So any that approach with anger are assumed to have been among them. They too fell prey to the trap the avriel made of her. She was not just to be hated and ostracized. She was made into the very focus of an inquisition. And while these children were cruel to her, many were not part of the escape attempt. The rest of the children soon realized that any mistreatment needed to be done anonymously; tripping, pushing, soiling her food, her clothes."

The Immortal shook his head in sadness, "It was likely that she knew from what event this treatment arose. But in all her life afterwards, she never knew for certain who held hatred in their heart for it, and who did not. I suppose there would be some that she could guess at. But like you, she has many that she thinks she will never be able to confront." An odd smile now broke through the grief, "But I do not say this to add to your self-recrimination. For there are still more details that bear consideration."

The background moved back to the tunnel where the capture first took place. Ymiden looked at the grate that the children would have escaped through. "It is not without merit, for those who knew no better, to have blamed her for ruining their chance at escape. Being where they were could truly only be accounted for one reason; to escape. And Faith had been here long enough to know this. Had she kept her peace, perhaps the children could have continued on. Should it then be her asking for forgiveness?"

The question was, of course, rhetorical as the scene replayed, this time with the focus moving into the grating passage that would have been the next stage of escape. It would probably almost feel as a physical blow as Finn saw a squad of avriel with nets waiting down the passage to foil the attempt. Had Faith not been there, they would have all been captured.

Yet, another montage of scenes showed other, future, would-be escapees being snatched up and dragged off for punishment. It crashed brutally upon Finn's reeling mind that had this trap been sprung as intended, without Faith's interference, rumors would have spread, and many more slaves might have avoided this end. For every detail that lifted guilt from Faith's shoulders, another placed it squarely back, only to have the next lift it again.

Finn's question could have torn steel with its anguish. Ymiden continued to gaze into the horrors as he responded. "Why' you ask...It's a fair question. Why inflict these convoluted rebounds of liability and vindication of blame? Why this relentless series of 'what ifs'? How do we count off the points of view that would put blame upon Faith, against those that would place it elsewhere? There is no perfect answer Finn. Life is full of such perplexing lacks of balance."

Now he turned to look Finn directly in the eye, "No one knows all the connected aspects of any one event. They say a breeze in the Hotlands shakes a leaf from a tree in Hiladreth. Would you say that the aspects of these events that would acquit that girl outweigh those that would blame her? Maybe someone that lived through different hardships would judge differently. So this is what I brought you here to understand, Finn Ashbroken. True forgiveness does not keep score. We do not count off details that indict, against those that vindicate, in order to arrive at a verdict. There is only one constant in all cases. There must be remorse in the heart of the one who would be forgiven. You have this remorse, Finn. Now you must reject this tallying of blame."
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Where Least Expected (Han, Faith)

Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:31 pm

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It was always the punishment she hated the most. To beat another, to have to do so hard enough that the Masters would be satisfied, or worse would befall them both. She was their instrument, the worthless girl knew that, but still. As much as she had no right to, she did not like to hurt another, she wanted not to. They beat her, too, but unusually this time they did it in such a way that it was not obvious. Pain was theirs to wield and they were experts. Which meant that the others believed that she was not being punished at all. She didn't care about that, not in the slightest.

Because every time she closed her eyes she saw him.

The boy they had made her beat until he died and then, she must continue until they could place him as a lesson. A lesson in the worth of a slave. In what power they held. She knelt in position, as commanded, and she did not speak. She did not answer them, did not speak to them. If she did, then the Masters might think that she and they were friends or that she had worked with them too.

And then, they would make her do it again.

At night, alone and when finally able to, the girl who would grow into the woman held back her tears, the pain and guilt and remorse she felt wracking her body as she lay on the floor and shivered. If she had said no, if she had refused? Could she have refused? They owned her, she could not refuse an order but what it was to take a life. So, as she was instructed, she did not speak of it. The worthless girl knew, anyhow, she would not be able to speak without sobbing and a slave should not weep.

Failure piled on failure as she bit her lip and drew blood to stop the tears falling from her grief there in the dark.

And then, it became obvious. Anyone not hostile to her was taken, questioned. Questioning was painful, debilitating and sometimes fatal, they all knew that. Did the other slaves treat her this way, she wondered, because they believed that she had done anything to harm them? And yet as the trials passed, the worthless girl saw how many were hurt because she had tried to save a few. Her prayers to Famula were heartfelt questions, had she served the greater good? Had she done what she should have done? What should she do?

There was no answer, of course, only the emptiness of her.

Then, one night, alone and hungry and beaten anew, fresh bruises and cuts layered over old and pain making sleep impossible, the girl who would become the woman who was Faith sat and looked down at her hands. Pushing her emotions into her hands was something which she had been taught from a young age, to put feelings, emotions, wants and needs, desires and notions of worth into her hands to be dropped later as the rubbish they were. She was a slave. No more, no less. Not a person, a waste of breath whose only worth was in meeting her owners' needs.

"This slave is worthless," she whispered. "In Famula's service, it strives to serve. This slave is... this slave..."

And then, as hot tears spilled down her cheeks, the girl who would one trial vow to end slavery if she could spoke a word which she never had in all ten arcs of her life, referring to herself in a manner completely forbidden, but the only words that she could, in this moment, use. "I'm so sorry..." and in the darkness, she sobbed.
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
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