Title: ``The River Once Red
Description: Caterina and Sethius
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 14, 2010 08:59 PM (GMT)
The hot sticky days of the summer months had been brutally abundant this year; Caterina couldn't believe that even when the red sun was ready to set, there was no coolness in the air to be found. Watching a nearby flock of birds drinking on the bay of the river, Caterina held her cup of tea to her lips and watched with a strange absorbed glare in her eyes. Thirsty as they all were, the young princess was far too interested in watching something that didn't matter at all to her. Fascination seemed to always take it's growth when boredom set it. Peeling her eyes from the not-so-interesting subject, she looked to her lifelong friend - of which she had annually taken for a weekend away on her parents boat for a bit of relaxation from her courtships - and sighed with great emphasis. "I don't know what's getting to me more, Aphelia; The fact that it's so god-awfully blazing out here or that the relaxation we generally have doesn't seem to be present. It's very dull - a strange haze seems to be in the air. I just can't settle myself."
Aphelia in turn nodded her head a few times, agreeing with her royal friend. The raven that Aphelia had kept as her pet flocked to her shoulder and perched down with incredible grace. It cawed once as if to tell her of it's presence and nestled itself pleasantly on her collar. Caterina smiled and looked off toward the drinking birds again, but realized that their boat had long since sailed passed.
The two of them continued to talk for nearly an hour - about the little things in life. Caterina chatted away about how her father had been coaching her on the family name and the way she needed to present herself to her people. It was obvious that the King wanted the best for his eldest daughter, and you had to be nothing shorter than a fool to figure out that she was the next heiress to the Hydriad throne. Aphelia was excited to share her news about gaining rights to one of the Hydriad's prestigious laboratories, and both were satisfied with the way their young lives were shaping. Aphelia excused herself off the deck and Caterina was once again, alone.
A pale hand wiped the sweat that succumbed onto her forehead. It was probably the hottest day that they had lived in quite some time - or at least in her opinion. The princess bent down far enough over the rail of her boat to touch the surface of the river. The thought of a cooling dip coaxed her heat trauma and she quickly decided that it wouldn't be a bad idea to go for an evening stroll in the river. After all, the sun had nearly completed it's set on the horizon and there was nothing but clean midnight skies to come. There was nothing more to think about other than the anchoring of her vessel. With a latch, tug and throw, the splash of the anchor hooked itself underneath and stabilized the boat to one location.
The future Queen stripped of her summer Victorian garments, removing all but her white bloomers and her corset. Her urge to feel the cool water around her human-like legs kept her from removing more. She didn't want to transform; and like all Siren of her kind, you had a choice in the matter. Without further hesitation and with too much pent up excitement, the blond-haired woman dove head first into the depths of the river basin. The rush of the cool stream water soothed her anxiety and she tilted her head back with her eyes closed - finally relaxing like she had wanted.
Floating along aimlessly, she occasionally peaked her eyes open to be sure she was close to her boat and shut them again. The soft feeling of satisfaction nipped at her and she was no longer irritable from the red sun. It was then that she felt a heavy object bump into her side with a floating thud, and quickly she sprung from her silent aroma. To her horror, she gasped from the sight she was seeing. A man -- faced down in the river -- had collided with her. He was obviously no more of this world, and Caterina let out a shocked uncanny yelp. Her eyes scanned the area for signs, and she felt her entire body lose it's creamy color.
There were at least ten men floating in the river - one after another.
Caterina covered her mouth in sheer awe - the river water running a diluted red spilled down her arm - and she felt paralyzed for a moment, unable to move to help or render anything seamless. She flipped the closest man over, saw he was wearing standard Siren military clothing and felt his neck for a pulse. He was pale and cold as a slab of fleshy ice. She lowered her eyes with sorrow and quickly began to head for the next floating body. It was then that she saw the only soul weakly spit water from his mouth, and she darted without a moment's thought.
But Aphelia would not hear nor come.
Sethius VanHampton - January 15, 2010 12:41 AM (GMT)
The last thing that he remembered seeing was red. A flash of the color, like a sunrise … no, it hadn’t been a sunrise. Of that he was certain without really knowing why. There had just been red. Something tasted familiar in his mouth, like iron; something hurt, and something was numb; something was heavy, something was light. His body felt as though it was made up of a series of aches, pains and contradictions. He felt metal on his front, small, almost coin sized. He felt soaking fabric try to weigh him down. Felt an occasional, gentle tug as thick hair feathered around his skull. There were coarse grains of sand in his sleeves. Could see a sliver of bright light above him. No shapes. Could hear something indistinguishable. He was completely aware, and yet, the siren felt nothing at all. Painful, surreal, calm—it was that last word which did it. Calm. There was something about that, he was positive, that wasn’t right. Serenity didn’t match the scenario that should have been taking course. If only he could remember what it was!
Things weren’t coming to him the way he was somehow sure that they should be. The thought process, he was convinced, was intended to be faster than this. He couldn’t remember key details that were, he was sure, integral to existence, and somehow he didn’t much care. Sethius, the word popped into his mind and sank away before he could comprehend. Every contemplation came in, grazed through, and moved out without making a single impression. The only one which left an imprint on his thought pattern was the inevitable: Why am I wet? It drove him to move his arms, trying to stand, for he was becoming slowly assured he was lying down. So much effort … the siren struggled against the current, and, heavens, it must have been so strong, for he was sure he should have moved with that endeavour; despite what he believed, the current was slow and his arm, which he thought he had fought the water valiantly with, floated on the surface with barely more than a flicker of movement. Subconsciously, he noted that he had legs—apparently, that was strange, but he couldn’t think of why.
Sethius, it breezed in and this time he recognized it as his own—a word of his own. What was that? Ah, a name.
His features were swollen, and the siren didn’t need a mirror to feel the prolonged effects of flesh in water taking place—loose and stretched feeling at the same time, if such things could exist in harmony. Their discord caused discomfort, as if the stabbed siren who couldn’t breathe hadn’t had enough of it. Sethius’s face was sticky, he noted to himself, in an absent sort of way. Didn’t process anything. In what felt like a final enterprise which should have ended in success, the male twisted his neck, his lips involuntarily parted. Water filled his lungs. Water and blood and dirt. He couldn’t breathe, nor could he see.
Sethius coughed and spluttered almost completely silently, but couldn’t do anything exceptionally effective. There was more turbulence on the surface for a moment and then—music? No, screaming. His ears heard a high note warble something he couldn’t understand remarkably well, a detail for which he could thank the water. Screams, he thought absently once more, were familiar. He had heard some, not long ago, if he recalled correctly. Sethius struggled for details which escaped him and he was quick to let go of the effort once more.
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 15, 2010 03:44 AM (GMT)
Upon approaching the man, she could easily tell that his features were distorted. His face appeared significantly swollen and bruised; lips cracked and eyes barely lit. Her hand swept over his face, and she was shocked to approve of his pulse. This man was still warm and still breathed - albeit minimally and shortly. With a million things racing through her young mind, she grabbed hold of him with a strong clutch and began immediately tugging him toward her vessel. Wading as quick as she could, Caterina yelled again out to her loyal friend. There wasn't any amount of strength any man could have - there was no way anyone could do this task alone.
When Aphelia appeared, a look of confusion came over her features. A brow lifted and a jaw open, Aphelia quickly gasped without further words. The river was littered with men and she knew from the look on Caterina's face that much help was needed. The astonishing sight of Caterina scantily clothed - of course not as though that wasn't something she had seen before - carrying a half dead man in her arms was what had Aphelia more than surprised. Quickly and nobly, she helped Caterina carry the man inside the boat area and decided she be the one search for any other survivors.
Unfortunately, they came up empty handed.
This lone man was the only being fortunate enough to be alive.
Barely alive, that is.
Once the two of them had gotten him into a safe dry room, Caterina looked him over and began to take action. He was bleeding across his chest, and she needed to get two things done; get him dry and stop the wound from bleeding. As he laid gently on the bed, both of them soaked with tainted river water, she removed his military jacket and tore his clothes with her fingers. A bit nervous about what to do with his trousers, she slid the covers to relish dignity and proceeded to better the situation. It was the quickest she had ever undressed someone other than herself. Her eyes widened at the sight of his chest wound, and she grabbed what she could to cover it up. Much pressure, heat and everything she could later, Caterina let him be with blankets, the best of her care and more than prayer.
All she could do now was change into something dry herself and wait for him to progress.
Sethius VanHampton - January 15, 2010 04:49 PM (GMT)
Spitting a small amount of blood from his mouth, he moved on the gentle uproar of the water as the distance between the motion and himself was closed. A shadow overtook the sunshine into his nearly-unseeing eyes. Now there was a pulling on an arm. Irrationally, Sethius wondered if he was caught on a vine—or five small ones—and was being pulled along with the current; if he were remotely more aware, he would have realized the absurdity of this thought. More of that noise, the screaming—why did he feel like he had heard more of it earlier? Little connections should have been made, between the voice and the grasp on his arm, but nothing obvious came until he was being lifted out: People. Of course.
The air was cold on his skin. The temperature of the water had taken him, and being stripped away from that comfort was a blessing that the siren wasn’t able to see properly. Outside of it now, and that seemed to be completely out of his control, he shivered and goose bumps marked all exposed tissue. If there was discussion, Sethius wasn’t able to make out any of it. He wasn’t afraid of whomever it was he was with. Their touch was firm but gentle enough that the siren saw no need to panic immediately. He felt as if he had already done a sufficient amount of that, although, for what reason, he could not quite place his finger on.
The grip of fingers was loosened from his form and he was overwhelmed with the sudden reassurance of a mattress beneath him. The coin-sized items on his chest—surely, there was a word for them, a simple one, which refused to come to him—had their tiny weight lifted. His chest was suddenly freezing in its exposure, and he wished that the sheet which had been draped over his lower body would cover up the gaping wound as well. The rough, grainy texture of sand and dirt were brushed off of him and pressure was applied on his form. Warmth, after what felt like an eternity had passed, was a surprise.
Sethius’s world, a collection of strategies, deductions and battle, was closing up slowly but surely. Silence was taking over his mind, as sleep took over his body. Sleep or death? He couldn’t be sure, nor did it seem relevant enough to dwell on in the instant. He dreamt of a siren leaning over him, and he dreamt of bloodshed. Saw the gold of her hair and the silver of a sword.
In waking, his discomfort was considerably increased. Numbness was what he had felt earlier, and sharp pain, aptly describable as ‘stabbing’ to his form—that was a positive, and simultaneously a negative. The siren wasn’t sure what to think, and unfortunately found that things were more comprehensible now. Delirium had been too sweet a gift to grant him forever. Attempting to sit up without much success, he sighed and settled back, astonished to feel at ease with what he was sure had just come to pass. Letting his head roll to the side, Sethius slowly processed his surroundings. A plain room, but comfortable enough, and the female, “Sethius,” he attempted. It can out sounding like a question, and not exceptionally close to the word he had intended to speak. It sounded like ‘See us?’, as if he wasn’t aware of the probable answer.
Trying again, he mustered up a partial sentence and coughed out the words, “Thank you,” the metallic taste of blood in his mouth. What was intended to be a full sentence regarding her generosity ended up inaudible save for the single word, “Kind.”
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 15, 2010 05:24 PM (GMT)
After attending to his side, she went into solitude for only a moment. Slowly unlacing her skin tight corset and removing every loop in it's stead, she let the garment fall and left it to wade in it's own small pool of dampness. Feeling the cold nakedness of her skin, she ran her hand down the middle of her chest. Her heart was beating faster than she could ever recall, and the astonishment of what had come to pass along the river sent quiver down the base of her stomach. Her ears were ringing and plugged from both the river water and the essence of her heart beating profusely within the drums. She had found dead men drifting in the river - and possibly could have a dead one in her cabin; an idea she couldn't just yet grasp. Pulling a white nightgown over her slow drying blond locks, she slipped over another dry and unfashionable corset and began lacing it to the looser extent. For bedtime, Caterina didn't like it to be as conformed as her daily pressurized wear - it was only natural to be comfortable while sleeping. Slipping on accompanied bloomers, socks and her golden locket necklace, she sighed and ran her fingers throughout her clumped hair.
Worried, stomach tense and mind numb from the thought of it all - she grabbed hold of a candlelight and proceeded to the room that Aphelia and her had left the wounded stranger in. Now in more appropriate clothes and clad in something dry and warmer, she knew that she should find clothes for the man despite the contributing warmth of the heavy blanket she had prior laid to him.
For the first time, Caterina was surprised to be rummaging through her fathers dresser and belongings - probably would have to apologize for it later - but was eventually content with the items she found within them. A basic white shirt and pair of slacks laid in her hands - the candlestick guiding light down the hallway toward the forbidden room.
Creaking the door ever so lightly, Caterina entered and gazed upon his sleeping face. Swollen, bruised and battered, she frowned at the poor man and slowly ran her hand down the side of his cheek. He was warmer than before, and she let out a sigh of strained relief. The man began to stir, and she caught a scent of his metallic breath when he spoke. She sat at his side.
She listened closer, not being able to pick up what he was verbalizing. 'Thank you' and 'kind' were the next of his words, and she smiled a warm smile, grateful that he was at least able to grip his surroundings. Or at least, she hoped he did. "You're safe now. You're going to be just fine. I'm here." Her eyes ran down his face as she continued to simultaneously touch his cheekbones and run fingers through his damp hair. Of course it wasn't anything she could promise, but the young siren female could always pray. The man, after all, was under her fathers command - and would eventually bow to hers. It was the least she could do for a possible dying soldier. There wasn't going to be any shortage of care.
Sethius VanHampton - January 15, 2010 07:46 PM (GMT)
“You’re safe now. You’re going to be just fine. I’m here.” Her voice was known to him, in a far-off sort of way. An element of the tone ringing a tiny bell of familiarity—the voice from the river.
Her touch was incongruous consolation, a complete stranger with a hand on his cheek and one in his hair. He made an effort at a smile, trying to express that her actions were appreciated. It made Sethius feel like a child, in some ways, but primarily it made the events from before feel surreal, as though they were far in the past. There were some questions he wanted to ask, first and foremost, who she was and all that accompanied that, but the siren couldn’t bring himself to. He had introduced himself, and though he heard the fragility to the words and the easy misconception, he had done enough to make an acceptable social effort, and she did not offer up her own information. He wouldn’t stress it. Considering his lack of clothing, he considered them acquainted quite enough. Propriety was probably best as the least of his concerns at that moment, and introductions were immaterial. At present, he needed to know nothing more than there was a beautiful creature with him, who had probably saved his life like some sort of angel; it was something made for a novel.
The silence was uncomfortable, for he knew there was something that was to be said, but he could not muster what that something was. Sethius wasn’t able to pull things out of his memory at the speed or effectively that he would have liked, but there was a nagging feeling at the back of his mind which he couldn’t quite place. It was something in relation to his face—not that it was swollen, nor that there were certain areas which had an gentle ache, but something else … it had been sticky, he thought. With blood. Had it been his own? It must have been. He considered raising a hand to check, but too comfortable to move from under the heat, his arm remained dormant at his side. He felt contently drowsy and, despite all pains, his body felt weightless, as if he could drift into sleep at any moment. But there was that irritating feeling that he couldn’t get rid of, couldn’t place, not until a single flash of recollection replayed, a single second in length: a flash of steel and a shower of vital red liquid.
He hadn’t been alone.
“Were there others?” he coughed the words, his throat dry, and his eyes made their way to meet hers. Clouds of darkness blotted the image from being crystal clear, and that was distracting enough to keep him from reading her face at all, “Boys?” barely more than children. Guilt was coming in like a tidal wave—he was almost certain of the answer. His eyes filmed over and he could feel the painful increase in his heart rate, felt his pulse in all places: the backs of his knees, wrists and thighs in anticipation of the answer.
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 15, 2010 09:45 PM (GMT)
It was at once then, before he had replied or even made a motion, that Caterina had removed her hand from his face and noticed that his hair was sticky with congealed blood. The tips of her fingers that ran through his chocolate waves were now stained, and hence there, a set frown mingled her lips. He was bleeding from his forehead unknowingly, and without further interruption, she began preparing gauze and antiseptic for the wound at his bedside. Carefully, she dabbed a cloth in a basin of steamed water and began patting his head. Working her way down his dirty face and to his chest, her tint whitened when he spoke his first comment.
"Were there others." More of a statement rather than a question, but powerful all at will. "Boys?"
Pale as she was, it was hard to believe she could conform an even brighter shade of gray. Her throat closed up, dry as a deserted day, eyes lightly glazed and lips pursed with an uncertain bite. She swallowed hard and deeply, trying to rid her mouth of the sudden bad lingering taste. His question was certainly something that was too heart-wrenching to think about - let alone tell him. From the looks of his weathered and deeply saturated jacket that was now hanging upon a hanger by the heater - she knew that he was of a higher platoon rank. It visibly clicked then in her mind that he must have been the commander of the dismembered men floating in pieces along the river.
In essence, all those soldiers were his.
She was uncertain in how to answer his question, for she knew that there was no easy way to deliver the unpleasant news. Quivering a bit as she gently dabbed his chest to the rhythm of her own heart, she swore it skipped a beat.
"There are no others." It was difficult to choke out the answer, clearing her voice to withstand the discomfort of it all. Her eyes looked at his with sorrow, and unfortunately, there was no easier way to soothe his displeasure. "I am so very sorry, commander. You're the only one we found." Caterina prepared for the sudden emotion that he might have valued, and she grabbed his hand for moral support. There wasn't a doubt in her mind that he was suffering numbness and amnesia - a cloudy memory or vague awareness, but despite that, she wondered if he did in fact occupy what she spoke.
Continuously, she moved onto the next subject in hope of relieving the pain. "I have some dry clothes for you. We're already headed home and we'll get you the physical help you need by the day after tomorrow. Just hang on until then. How I pray that you do."
"You were saved for a reason." She thought, inwardly.
Sethius VanHampton - January 16, 2010 03:42 AM (GMT)
Before she answered, the words which she would speak made themselves clear. His world seemed black and white, but what left unsaid for those brief moments spoke a thousand phrases at once. The siren couldn’t see her face without lifting his head, which he wasn’t sure about doing at all. He just let the quiet of the room elongate and took in the faint smell of vanilla in the air.
“There are no others,” and she met his gaze, “I am so very sorry, commander. You’re the only one we found.”
Unable to keep boys safe, barely so old that they should be wandering on their own, let alone with weapons, how could he be sent to a palace to serve under someone at so high a rank as the royal family? He shook his head ever so slightly and felt a hard lump in his throat in the moment of frustration, that feeling of holding back a fast-flowing rush of water and words. Sethius was clearly not qualified for this. They should have been prepared, and recognizing their inexperience, he should have been there at all times. It was his foolish, selfish boredom, and now they were the dead. Some with family, some without; loved ones and hobbies and lives, just like anybody else. Now they were separate from all those things, separate even, a drop of recollection suggested, from parts of themselves.
With what strength he had, Sethius found himself clutching onto the hand which she had wrapped around his. It was a weak grasp, but his heart thudded within his chest and he felt as though he were applying more pressure than he knew he could. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Physically, there was little change in his condition but a tiny choking noise of disbelief before falling back into silence and the release of two single tears down his inflamed cheeks; mentally, he inflicted a blow of loathing. At himself, their assailants, and even the dead, however faultless. Another cough, this one connected to a thin, sad laugh, “Just boys. They were,” took another deep breath, “Barely older than you,” he shook his head faintly once more.
Sethius truly only saw her youth at that moment, and he was both marvelled and appalled—wowed that she would handle this situation, seemingly not alone by her earlier, he noted distantly, use of the word ‘we’ and aghast that she would see something like this. A little more shame, not only from his loss but from what he had just said, slunk over his face. A siren’s age was often indeterminable. He may have just been incredibly socially inappropriate. The male siren would later blame it on shock that he would say that. What was the expression: Never ask a lady her age? That seemed so important, all of a sudden, and he embraced the distraction from the reality which his saviour had confirmed for him. Forget it, forget it.
“Thank you,” he said once more with a soft exhale of breath. He smiled when she said pray, just the slightest hint to overwhelm the pre-existing grief. He wanted to ask where home was, but this was yet another sentence that, in attempting, came out with a hopeful fragment, of which the words of the very question he intended were rearranged into something incomplete, “Home is …?”
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 16, 2010 04:31 AM (GMT)
Caterina had undoubtedly known that the news would come shock to him, and she let him squeeze her hand with the up most strength he had to lend. With is tight grip—albeit bland and weak for a man his size and strength, the woman tried to soothe his pain with the help of her company. Her free hand continued to slowly dab his head wound with the damp cloth, and when he released two tears from his slivered eyes, she lifted them from his face with a gentle brush of the back of her hand. She couldn't help but feel completely useless to his pain, and the site of the battered man in front of him weeping with loss nearly split her in two.
"Just boys they were. Barely older than you."
The sentence only made her feel worse. Caterina wasn't aware of the extent of what had happened, nor was she really entitled to. The assumption of the basics were there, but she hadn't an idea what really went on in that battlefield. The screams of men being dismembered and sliced apart with there blades was really no business of women nature; especially in a time period such as it was. The circumstances and the different scenarios were endless, and she couldn't resist but let her mind wander the unthinkably impossible. All she was really certain of is that they gave their lives for their country and that sent a noble chill down her spine. It was empowering to see such a thing in front of her very own amethyst eyes and was certainly a scene that she would take with her to her grave. It was then and only then that Caterina had made her mind set on her future endeavors in her political and military affairs. It was then that she knew how deeply powerful these men were when they stood for something so righteous.
Her mind then wandered to something a bit different. What was it that he exactly meant by no older than her? The sheer look and physical condition of the man laid out in front of her was of no elder age; his face harder to convey from the swelling of his cheekbones and eyes. However, this man wasn't old at all. She pouted mentally like every young woman would when being referred to as a child, and proceeded on with cleaning him.
"Home is....? He startled her from her deep thoughts, and quickly she answered him.
"Home is back in Edelshia, city of the Siren." She spoke almost as if she was educating him. The city she had been born and raised in - and the closest civilization on the map that would actually do this man any beneficial health support. Come to think of it, she wasn't exactly positive if the man was of Siren blood, but she knew that there would be help waiting him in any Hydriadic providence.
"You must be freezing..." Caterina moved herself from the side of the bed and slid her small hands underneath the base of his neck. Leaning him with all her strength toward her bosom, she carefully eased the off-white undershirt onto his dried cold-skinned body. She didn't pull it all the way down his chest however. Instead, she released him from her grasp and laid him gently back onto the pillow. She needed to find a bigger bandage, and realized that there were none that she could supply him with. He was still bleeding rather dangerously, so she did the best and first thing that came to mind.
She began tearing up the hem of her nightgown and laid wrapped it around his torso. It was the only way she could provide him sufficient pressure without straining herself excessively. She tied it neatly into a bow and began taking a closer examination to his forehead. Stitches, she knew, but hesitated to break out her needle and thread. Again, she laid the cloth to his face and proceeded the conversation.
"I can't imagine what you must feel right now. Laying here in a strangers bed, stripped down to nothing with every bit of sorrow written into your thoughts."
Sethius VanHampton - January 16, 2010 06:31 AM (GMT)
The benevolence she offered in that moment made his mind, more active by memory, made him wonder why it had been he who was so fortunate of them all. Sethius did not notice the cold she had observed until her petite fingers curved around his neck to support him as she slid on the undershirt and he caught a glimpse of the hairs on his arms through the slits of sight he was gifted. It was in that considerable motion that he truly became aware of how much vision was being cut off from him, “I’ll repay you,” he promised. He wanted to expand: for your kindness and your courage, for your tolerance and your efforts, and your clothing and your shelter, and quite possibly for saving my life. It all sounded rather grand, and he was tempted, but speaking was not high on his list of priorities, although he understood that it was probably a good idea to both remain conscious and express gratitude to his hostess.
It went against his figure, though. Sethius felt his body fight for dominance into what he could only pray would be a deep slumber. Perhaps, in an alternate dimension of their terrible actuality, there was a land where things were forgotten, and he begged to take a holiday to such a place—he also resisted, for in dreams, true rest was rare, as he had discovered at an early point in his career. The guilt of their deaths made him long to be back in the water, facedown in the bank. But never, not on his will; that was no passage to the Valhalla he had his sights set on, and certainly not with the situation which he was leaving behind.
He closed his eyes, content for a moment to hear a good word on the situation. Edelshia, the word fluttered in and Sethius was sure, at that moment, that some higher being had finally taken the initiative to end this story well, “Home …” he trailed off with satisfaction . The ironically predictable shock of their deaths did not pass, but Sethius allowed one moment to consider the situation to be improving, “That’s perfect.
“Appropriate,” the syllables came out in slightly separated phases, careful since his first word to be as clear in his enunciation as possible after his earliest efforts, “and poetic,” he attempted another laugh, this time aiming for one out of genuine compassion, as opposed to that insincere chuckle of madness incited by sorrow which she described effectively. It didn’t entirely work and presented itself as a mild wheeze, which Sethius would later only be able to remember as one of many unattractive noises made in those hours. He couldn’t laugh. His heart was heavy and his body hurt like he had never known it could, “It isn’t an experience,” the words were slower than ever as he attempted a comprehensible string of words, more than he had mustered all night—day? Time was lost to him, “I think I’ll be repeating soon,” Sethius finally concluded the sentence, wondering if the female could see him flush at how late every word came. This conversation was one he would think about frequently in the future, and realize consequently that it could probably have been increased about three times in speed.
He reciprocated with, “I can’t imagine what you must be thinking at the moment,” another comment which stretched for eternity, followed by a set just as lengthy, like they weren’t meant to be fully connected, “With a stranger in your home requiring you to tear your garments,” he said this last bit in as apologetic a tone as he could manage. Sethius was aware that the comment was not necessarily the most appropriate in a normal scenario, but it was unavoidable for him to make, feeling the necessary apology for his imposition boiling the pit of his stomach.
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 16, 2010 07:09 AM (GMT)
It was surprising to her that he was trying to laugh among the terrible soreness and irony of everything, yet even she found herself smiling gently with his kind luxurious, simple words that graced his obvious courtship. He was a man of well etiquette, or at least of what she could tell by his very few choice of words. His pain was represented by his longevity of speech; clearly he was not as removed from this world as the poor princess had predicted. Conversation was at it's peak of the moment, and she was overcome with a happiness she could not place.
"You best not allow this to happen again. I'm not so sure grand life-saving miracles happen more than once a lifetime. I'd say yours is well spent." A bit of tease with a relaxed absent mind, and Caterina was well on her way to befriending the lone man. Her mind wandered to her friend briefly, thinking about how or what Aphelia was thinking about it all. They'd spoken shortly before Caterina reentered the room about what to do with the gathered deceased. It might have seemed morbid, but the young princess thought that it would be best to clean them up and take every single one of them back to Edelshia for funeral and further ceremonial consent. A grief came over her once again; she should have been helping Affie with gathering and cleaning of the gruesome men, but quickly changed at the fact that Aphelia had done things like this before. She was no stranger to the dead. She worked with them day in and day out for medicinal and chemical purposes. Oh, the things that Aphelia would do in the name of Science.
"I can't imagine what you must be thinking at the moment, with a stranger in your home requiring you to tear your garments." Caterina smirked uncommonly and let out a deeply voiced laugh. "I don't see it as strange. I actually find it quite noble that you would fight so strongly for what you endear. There is no greater glory than protecting your people; my people. Besides, I only wear this to bed, anyhow." It may have easily been a window for him to question her being or her status, but she moved along and tugged his shirt down over the bandaged wound.
She lifted the covers over top of his entirety and laid the pants on the side of the bed. A bit blush in the face, she wandered away from the subject of putting on his pants; hopefully setting them aside abruptly would gesture the point evenly across. Of course, only when he was stable enough to do it himself. It was the most awkward moment she could recall in her near twenty years, and she looked away with hopes he would not notice her rose colored cheeks.
Clearing her throat, she once again ran the back of her hand down his face calmly to let him know she was present, and stood from the side of the bed. "You need some healing rest. You can thank me all you wish in the morning or however long it takes you to wake." Her pale hand tapped the top of his pectorals a few times to signify that she was parting for the evening. "If there is anything else you may need, I will be in to check on you periodically throughout the night."
Sethius VanHampton - January 16, 2010 08:02 AM (GMT)
He didn’t say what he thought at that instant: I don’t feel noble.
Sethius decided that it was acceptable for him to withhold information. There was blood on his hands once more to be washed clean, predominantly siren, he assumed, unsure of whether or not he had done any damage at all that night which could even begin to tally up as penance for what had come to pass. In later dreams and moments of clarity, the siren would be pleased to see that the intended damage to the only man he had the opportunity to strike out at had been successfully executed. However, in that second, with her words, he could make no relation.
Not to suggest that sentences spoken by the young woman fascinated him mildly, and at the same time, he found he thought nothing of it. Sethius caught her mention of ‘her people’ and, despite what little alarm had been set off in his head, any questions settled down to the conclusion that they were of the same people, hydriads, sirens. He didn’t even know her name, and asking her for clarification on details as small as those would be for two people far more personally connected than the two of them. Despite what conversation passed, and the events which had proceeded, her lack of volunteering information informed him that there was nothing he could ask while within the bounds of proper society—pressing a lady who had already been so good—as if he could pretend he had not already stepped far out. Besides that, her comment regarding her clothing distracted him enough that he did not give another thought to what was said moments before.
She dropped clothing on the side of the bed and Sethius felt a rush of surprise and horror alike. The indecency of what had—somehow, that thought was cut short with an immediate consideration. That was horribly awkward. For all he knew, he had been quite exposed. He wasn’t entirely sure what to think about that at all. She said nothing and diverted her gaze from his; embarrassed? That made the male siren feel all the more discomfited in the passing of comparatively irrelevant events. Aside from the unseemliness that made up the moment, he couldn’t help but wonder if her embarrassment had anything to do with him, and if indeed there was anything to be embarrassed about.
In what the male viewed as a valiant rescue of the situation for spiralling downward into more quietness, she spoke again. Her offer of leaving was, in combination, a blessing and disappointment. The first that he could close his eyes and hope for the same mercy shown in the great revealing of the intended destination, and the latter for her company was unexpectedly pleasant, particularly considering that was a day which should have, from his interpretation of the events he had dreamt and she had described, ended quite badly. Regardless of any questionable shame he may or may not have—this was knowledge he was not likely to be privy to—he responded conclusively to her statements with a hoarse one of his own.
“I will never forget: I owe you my life.”
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 18, 2010 12:47 AM (GMT)
"I will never forget: I owe you my life."
These words came as shock to her young naive ears. His words were certainly not something she expected to hear, nor did they really set her at peace. In response, a bold feeling washed over her. Her hand reached the doorknob as she stood and looked at him through the corner of her lingering eye. She no longer wished to dwell on the detail of him subjecting himself to her; it left her far too uneasy to understand. The idea of having a slave who longed to obey her was not anywhere in her interest, as any man should succumb to know, faith and respect was what any righteous leader sought. It was then and only then that men freely gave their greatness to any other man. "Forgetting is sometimes an easier path to forgiving what is wrong. There is no real need to remember, nor do you owe me that of what you so narrowly managed to keep. Sleep well." Without further conversation, Caterina took her leave and the click of the door proceeded with parting footsteps.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Good Morning. It fills me with happiness that you have lived to see another sun." Caterina had leaned at his bedside again, awaiting for a moment to speak to him, his disoriented and obvious pain sent him far within the grasps of sleep. He looked like a cherub when he slept, his face swollen and cheeks red with fever. Waking him would be a definite mistake, for he needed all energy he could retain in order to overcome his wounded fragility. Instead, she waited until signs of his rise began to appear, almost nibbling at her patience with a strange taste of eagerness and nervousness that she couldn't place. Come to have thought, she couldn't place a lot of her feelings into the right mindset; everything was uneasy and displeasing. Her eyes scathed over him another time, and of what she could gather immediately, his complexion was healthier and more subtle, better all in all than the day prior.
She had risen with the morning sun, early and deliberate to check on his ailments. Her eyes were a bit worn from the strenuous work that Aphelia and herself had been occupied with and the tiredness that overwhelmed her clearly showed in her aura. It was a difficult task, the one of which they sought to see through, but with everything the two of them did; it was all for the sake of the Hydriads.
But it wasn't the tiredness, the uneasiness or the continuous displeasure that upset her the most. It was the essence of the dead bodies that were already beginning to smell like decomposition, and it certainly wouldn't come as shock to her if the boat would forever smell like sliced limbs and rotting sinew. Even when she stirred in her lump of sugar, her tea just didn't smell as appetizing as she once remembered. The brutality of the rotting corpses and the gore that spilled upon her deck was horrifying to a woman who had never witnessed such savagery, and every bit of her senses seemed to fail her — no, plagued by the disgusting stench and fog that hailed the air around them.
"We should be to Edelshia by nightfall..." Her voice lingered slowly; tired and restless. They had sailed the fastest that the wind would take them to the grand city, for Caterina was unsure on how much this man in her cabin could last through. A pulse of scare fled her body; she could not lose him. Not after the hopeful approach had filled her heart.
Sethius VanHampton - January 20, 2010 12:19 AM (GMT)
There was something about her words which Sethius could not listen to. Perhaps it was that he did not believe she meant what she said, that this young siren could not possibly wish to be repaid, despite the fact that she had located his body, as well as those of his men; perhaps it was that he simply could not hear it, for knowing himself incapable of leaving the situation be without some sort of compensation for her actions; perhaps he was simply no longer coherent enough to process things without thinking too little or thinking too much. Either way, the young siren had closed the conversation, and without dwelling on the situation any further, he slipped out of consciousness before the female left the room.
- x -
There was a young boy. The broadsword slung across his back dwarfed him, and his thin arms looked barely able to support its weight. He moved awkwardly with the weapon once it was unsheathed, and Sethius opened his mouth to offer instruction, while no sound came out. A little girl who, although he had not sensed her presence, he somehow knew had been there the entire time, pulled on her dark red braid as she tugged the commander away from the boy, “I found the bodies,” she said, staring up at him with wide eyes ringed with thin, short lashes.
She led him through the crystal blue water, which he only just became aware he was knee-deep in, and the two of them moved towards a place by the riverside where vines hung into the reddish-brown murk. In his dream, the siren did not consider it odd that the water had just changed color. Following the child’s raised finger into the growth, he peered in, seeing toy soldiers, floating facedown into the shallows.
“Oh,” he said, “I knew I’d left them somewhere.”
“I’d like to be just like them,” the boy stated solemnly from next to Sethius, while the little girl, wading in the water so that the lacy garments she wore clung to her pale skin, approached one of the wooden men.
“I wonder where this one’s face went,” she mused aloud pleasantly. Then, rising her gaze to meet his, “Hey!” she exclaimed suddenly, her expression never changing, although her mouth opening wide enough to reveal sharp little canines, “Where did yours go?”
- x -
Sethius didn’t dream again for the weeks that followed, and after waking up comparatively hot to his earlier temperature, and with an inexplicable sheen of sweat on his skin, he would sink into dreamlessness, embracing sleep for more hours than he knew, and yet, at the same time, feeling as if he hadn’t enough, woken more constantly than he could bear with the sharp stabbing at his chest. Any further questions regarding what had happened would remain in an almost-pleasant haze for the time being and, as frustrating as it might have been, being privy to that information would not have altered events in any way, perhaps only made him considerably less grateful, when he woke after what he thought might have been a period of greater length than the others, for the gift which the blonde woman spoke: Life.
Swallowing and giving an effort at a smile, which resulted mostly in grimace, but he considered the thought what counted in the matter, Sethius attempted a response, which bordered on the edges of formality with hints of a most casual acquaintance. For a statement, it was considerably androgynous, “I don’t believe I can take credit for that,” he wondered when she had entered and how much she herself had slept. He wondered at the tired sound to her voice. Sethius failed to consider that perhaps the young siren was also conceivably shocked. It was something which, on another occasion, he might have picked up on more, but that day it eluded him that the place of a woman was most commonly in politics.
“Won’t you tell me about yourself?” he asked mildly, meaning not for it to see impertinent, but merely that she knew much about him, and he felt tired of making mediocre assumptions about her and attempting to talk while being able to say so little it may have been almost ridiculous to try. He would have explained so were his mouth not dry and his throat sore. He decided, in that moment, to just damn propriety and reflect conversation.
Caterina Lancreteroux - January 20, 2010 02:30 AM (GMT)
However way she looked upon this man, she couldn't grasp anything of common value about him. His face was distorted from the swelling, bruises and cuts, his voice was quiet and far too husk to be his own with eyes that looked dark when he slit them open to look up at her; he was a John Doe that placed her in the strangest of emotional predicaments. The only thing she concluded was that he was deeply humbled by his situation and grateful for the kindness and shelter that she lent him. Caterina took notice that saving him was considered a good deed, but it seemed to be far more in stature than just that now. At first, she wanted to have proof to her father of her worthiness as a Queen, to make him proud to call her his succession; but now, it was to simply save this man for everything more than her selfish desires. What if he had a family, friends or children? He could very well be the living breath of a parted lover, or a son to a wilting mother. Whoever he may be, she felt emotionally attached and responsible for his well-being, and she couldn't bare leave his side.
Not now. Those thoughts would haunt her otherwise.
She was already far too consumed with her irrelevant selfishness to receive the crown, and deeply shamed for thinking such ridiculous thoughts.
'I don't believe I can take credit for that. Won't you tell me about yourself?' The woman pursed her lips, thinking long and hard. Caterina knew that within herself she shouldn't reveal her identity; nor was it an easy topic to explain. Her specialty never laid in acquainting herself informally -- almost to the point where she wouldn't speak of anything other than basic greetings, propriety and common gossip. She hummed a sigh and cleared her throat.
"They say that wild female horses stick together throughout the roughest of storms; they gather and depend on each other, and without the stability of their neighbor, they are unable to keep themselves alive. We must stay united, if not as a world, than as a race. Invoria, my friend, is far too divided to keep us out of a war. We will fall and fail eventually--inevitably. Let's just say that you and I both hold the power to slow it's fate, or better yet -- stop it from happening entirely." She paused for a moment, grabbing his hand and thought about how to proceed next. "My father is a man of great importance. You may know of him simply because of your important role in the military. Perhaps, you and I may cross paths again someday..."
It was then that Apehlia entered the room, knocking first, and startled Catrina from her ambitious thoughts. "In about a half hour, Rin." She said, merely peaking into the doorway. Caterina nodded and Aphelia closed the door with a slow click. In her mind, she thanked Aphelia a thousand times over for not calling her by her proper name. It was known throughout the lands that King Jethuan Anvosh Lancreteroux had two gorgeous daughters, a handsome son and a heartfelt deceased wife. Unfortunately, their names were as well known as their stories.
"You do not need to know of me, yet. When the time arises, I am sure you will know of the innuendos I refer. But as for now, you may entitle me 'Rin'."