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Roleplay Forums => Modern/Futuristic Roleplay => Topic started by: Verse on June 10, 2016, 03:43:30 pm

Title: Ash and Roar [Fin]
Post by: Verse on June 10, 2016, 03:43:30 pm
And after the journey in the shining, black car with its tell-tale red eyes – her first warning - through the town that made hard candy, and the town that sold dirty, clean produce, into the forest with leaves so green they were teal and bark so dark it was old blood – another warning – and lemon-light sunshine on the other side that would fade along with the loss of greenery

there would be a last town, her last town, with a short wall without gates.

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m561/Verse1234567/ashandroarbanner_zpspxvkh9al.jpg) (http://s1132.photobucket.com/user/Verse1234567/media/ashandroarbanner_zpspxvkh9al.jpg.html)

The people were weary of her vehicle, careful not to cross the street, hanging their heads in a practiced reverence and with a stiffness in their necks that looked like fear. One boy, another body dressed in dark clothes, opened his eyes wide when he saw her. Were they expecting someone else in the backseat? Dirty men and women – a mining town, after all – came out of a bus and were weighed with sorrow, not fatigue. A cheek or two were cried clean. The car left through the back of the small wall. Another forest, this one with white roses woven in wreaths around the trees. The flowers were fat, and the dew looked like pearls on the smooth petals.

That exquisite favor from nature extended to but halted at the manor that stood inside a higher wall. A strange mix of new, polished materials and old architecture. The smoke that had dissipated but never left the town was not here, even in spirit. If she had her eyes with her, she would notice that every other bar in the gate was rusted, while its neighbor was coated in immaculate black, as the car took her onto the stone yard. A gaggle of people, house help, surely, with their white shirts exempt from the dark dress code she’d seen so far, flocked around her door. Some of the maids cooed upon seeing her face when the tallest, rather young authority in front opened for her. He promptly shushed them with a sharp look from his blue eyes and bid her come out. He explained to her how very welcome she was to Oleander Manor, and that his name was Nathan Brandston, at her call.

Her dress, laid out on the bed of the lived-in room somewhere in the bowels of the main house, was fitted perfectly to her. It was a pretty thing, in that it had colors on its flowers. Well made, intricate, light, and utterly inappropriate for the event. There were parts of it that were worn. Somebody had loved and left this article repeatedly, and it hung on her better for it. The invitation had specified she wear what was on the bed. The tone had been stern. The world was stern, with night overtaking the hour. This knowledge was a few minutes old in this room without pictures and windows.

Nathan Brandston knocked on her door and lead her deeper into the house. He was a kind fellow, handful of years passed her own age. His chit-chat was world class and his jokes, though staged, were well meaning. If she hadn’t noticed already, there was a hole where information about this event should be, the way he carried on.

The room was in the cellar, and it was a generous size considering its underground location. She saw the candles, a decadent display, wax the length of a person, standing on the floor, crowding the spaces that weren’t the carpet leading up to three rows of benches. Beyond the provided seats, glowering in the overflow of firelight, hung a body, wrapped in a hard dress, leather or plastic or both. In the garment, iron rings connected to iron chains that were attached to the far walls, and one chain stretching from her spine to the ceiling. She was posed floating, upward, but with a lingering hand down. Her vision was bound, a black, eyeless mask, and her mouth was covered with a guard that followed her face after having grown from the continuing neck of her restrictive garb. If not for that guard without holes on her lips and nose, she might have looked alive, still. Her hair was free. Nathan did not look disturbed by the transfixed human, the angel suspended on chain-link wings.

He sat below her hand, on his knees, a wave of flames built around one side of him, around them. The shadows on his face, licking at his ears, wagered an age between herself and the Brandston butler. “That is Sir Kvell, older brother of the late Lady Ansa.” Nathan whispered. “Your brother.” Kvell's eyes were stubbornly black, though salted with the surrounding wealth of candles. Not even his suit, which was a shadow trying to gossip about his lengthy build, was as dark as those eyes, staring up at the leather bound hand, and the woman that held it out. A few fangs of black hair pointed to his cheekbone, which was underlined by crying’s blush. His air was angry, the jaw pulsing, a boy’s rebellion, with a broken posture. A delicate gargoyle, loved by the chisel. Kvell hadn’t known many things like this loss.

“Go to him. Say something to him.” Nathan begged her, touched her shoulder for it. “He is almost dead from grief. They were close.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 10, 2016, 06:01:41 pm
Ophelia was tense in the back seat of the car, which had been sent for her, and kept her hands folded tautly across her lap. She had never seen the towns they passed through, nor the forest, though she’d grown up nearby. St. Emiliani’s Home for Children was a quiet and insular place. She had never traveled far from its Victorian walls. Under other circumstances, she might have found this trip exciting.

The buildings crawled past her window in a funeral procession. She was to be in mourning for a girl she’d never met. The call had been strange, accompanied by a formal letter some days later. The family she’d not known had lost someone dear. It would be a small light in this dark time for her to return home. As if she’d elected to leave. Perhaps, by being born second of twins, she had been responsible. These little towns were odd, with old superstitions. The voice on the other end of the line had been muted, but not unkind.

The letter had been stranger than the call. Ophelia had not known funerals to have so many rules. But, then, she had not been to many funerals. She glanced at her bag in the seat next to her, where the letter was tucked in an outer pocket. There was a room waiting for her when she arrived at the family manor. A wealthy family, it seemed. She was to leave her personal items with the staff that met her at the door. She was to wear the clothes left out for her.

Ophelia stared out the window of the car, as they passed into the mining town she’d been born in, and tried to look passive. There were odd stares, from those who were willing to stare, like they had seen a ghost. She had not known her sister further than the mirror in her room at the orphanage. Big dark eyes, the color of deep red ocher, fringed with long dark lashes. A small, spritely nose. Soft brows. Hair like cold rose gold, blushing pink beneath the sun. She had been told by one of the Sisters at St. Emiliani’s that the color had been her mother’s.

The roses were less unnerving than the townspeople, as they drove into the forest. Lovely, but stifling as well. She supposed it might have just been her nerves, but the still sweetness of the woods seemed a little eerie. The trip through was longer than she had expected. Ophelia wondered if the manor even qualified as part of the town proper, sitting so deep behind the trees. But, when the car pulled to a stop, past the mottled gate, she was a little glad for it as she stepped out. The air tasted more like pine than soot and the sky above the sprawling home was a magnificent and optimistic blue.

She tried on a smile for Mr. Brandston, who didn’t seem much older than herself, and reached back into the car to grab her bag. She remembered the letter. After a moment’s hesitation, she offered it to him. “I was sent a letter. It said to leave my things with you. Quite specific. Thank you for your care.” Ophelia said. She’d been raised to be polite and obedient. The Sisters of St. Emiliani’s Home for Children were strict, but fair, and served as a gaggle of chastising mothers where the children had none.

Ophelia followed Nathan Brandston to the room, grateful for his conversation in the unfamiliar home. She tried to picture it as a place she might have grown up in, but found her imagination was paper thin in that regard. When he left her at the door, she felt it was lonely. The bedroom was pretty, decorated with a taste for soft luxuries and a feminine pallet. There was a small desk with a book and a porcelain cup of pens. A vanity, cluttered with delicate glass bottles. The bed was large, with a canopy of thick fabric that hung heavy over the four white posts. There were large iron rings bolted into the posts at the headboard, which struck her as out of place, but she was quickly distracted by the garment that had been laid out for her.

Ophelia ran her fingers over the material curiously. It was well worn, but of a better quality than any clothes she’d worn. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing to wear to a funeral, but the letter had been particular about the rules of her attendance. In truth, she hadn’t been sure she ought to come at all. The letter had been so odd and the woman that had died was littler more than a name to her.

Sister Nettie had insisted on it, though. Ophelia was past the age that required her to stay at the orphanage and was rapidly nearing the age she would be decidedly not allowed to stay. The Home was a charity with too many mouths to feed, at the end of the day. Sister Nettie had said meeting her family might be a chance at a bright new future. Ophelia had not thought joining the Sisters, herself, would have been such a terrible future. She had taken Sister Nettie’s advice, mostly because she disliked disappointing the woman and her sad grey eyes.

She slipped into the frock, folding her own clothes neatly on the bed. It fit her as if it had been tailored for her. Ophelia shivered a little. Was it her sister’s dress, then? She was grateful when Mr. Brandston knocked on the door to fetch her. She followed him quickly from the room. With his pleasant chatting, she hardly noticed how deep into the Manor they had gone. It was only when they reached a heavy door, the sort used rather specifically for cellars, that she gave the man an unsure expression.

He must not have noticed, or chosen not to pay any mind, and led her into the room. The candlelight blossomed the strawberry hue of her flaxen hair. She stood dumbly, taken aback by the room first and then, more so, by the ghastly angel. Ophelia was sure she had been led into a ritual, not a funeral, and searched with panicked eyes for some sort of explanation from the butler. Nathan identified the other man in the room, and it made her pale. Brother. She glanced at the man, with his dark hair and darker eyes, and realized she looked significantly more akin to the leather-bound corpse, whose unbound hair fell just shy of her shoulders in the same blush hues as her own.

There was urgency in Nathan’s voice that confused her, and a creeping fear in her chest said she ought to turn and run from the room. This was no normal family, whether it was hers by blood or not. The butler’s hand on her shoulder set her in motion toward Sir Kvell, instead.

“Sir Kvell?” Ophelia’s voice came wavering and weak when she neared, which made her flush in some frustration. It was only fair that she’d been thrown so far off balance, though, standing there in a dead woman’s dress like a summoned phantom at a witch’s conjuring. The candles flickered and danced with her resolve. “I’m Ophelia. Your… other sister. Or so I’m told.” She managed, clasping her hands tight before her, as if in prayer. Perhaps she was. This man didn’t seem like a brother. She tried to think of something polite to say, regardless. “I’m very sorry for your loss.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 10, 2016, 11:53:04 pm
Kvell had been asking for mercy from the dark seraph. The staff had been allowed to come and go on the benches behind him. He'd not taken food. The pretty hands were in his lap, filled with prayers he'd whispered into them when they were clutched to his lips. It was clear that the black hair had been brushed back at some point. Fits had it a nest now, the black-bird feathers making jagged statements agains his features. The first button underneath the bowtie was ivory, and it was freed now. Somewhere in his sadness, Nathan had come to undo it for his comfort.

Kvell didn't move when she attached his title to his name. He kept quivering eyes at Ansa, who reached back, eternally. The ring finger curled and then relaxed when Ophelia presented herself. Still, most of him retained that apathetic stoic. But his head whipped to see her when she said she was sorry. Purple skin benath those coal eyes. Beautiful distress. He had an inhierited pretty, a handsome that wouldn't waver even after days of greif. Perhpas he was so victorian that his pulling qualities were enhanced by his darkness. Back when this bloodline had been drawn, the ugly founders had set out to gather beauty to go with their wealth. It clung to his bones to prove itself.

And that storm of symmetry and nobel looked her over, weighing her and tieing her words to her lips. "Sorry?" he asked, and all the fingers curled on his thighs. There was life dancing in the eyes now, but it was not warming vivacity. A spine of shadows on his straight nose, pale lips shrinking into a tight, round bundle. He would seem towering, even on his knees when he wore this cadence. His back was straight again. Up and down he examined her dress. The purple was joined by a red on him. "Then why did you do it!" a drowning hiss from that hard set mouth. The servants shifted. He stood. The servants grew into the floor.

Only Nathan had air to gasp when Kvell struck her, rapping exstended fingers and two knuckles over her cheekbone. The sound and the arch of the offending arm upset the candles on Ophelias side. He was breathing hard, looking down at her, the digits he'd lifted loosing thier tension as the limb lost its height. Soon it hung by his side. "Why did you leave me?" he asked, the madness flickering with awareness of itself over his features. His voice was a bit dry. He'd not spoken this much for a long time. Kvell looked from Ophelia to the posed Ansa a handfull of times until it made him sick.

He shoved the living sister onto a bench behind her. A conflicted act, as though he'd charged the assult with more power than he allowed himself to release. And then he stomped out, snuffing lights with his turbulence. Nathan moved, the wall of maids moved. And then they were all left in his silence. One maid cried quietly and Nathan hurried to Ophelia. There was condolocence in his eyes as he stood before her, for what had just happened, and for her situation. He did not have the chance to speak before Kvell stomped into the room again.

His stride was furious, and he killed more lights with it. Nathan steped back, almost into the ocean of lights underneath Ansa, to give the brother room. It was clear that the butler would not stand between the master and whatever hardship he'd brought for Ophelia this time.

When the fuming, greif-stricken reached her again, he seemed unable to move closer than a few feet to her, mouth larger now, drinking in the air that the flames did not ingest. The hands underneath the ends of the black sleeves were dangerously dense. Pampered, smooth bricks. The unlookers shook their heads, wishing for some kind of mercy for the poor Ophelia.

Kvell didn't hit her again. Kvell folded his legs until his knees touched the floor by her feet. He dropped his head in her lap, nuzzling high, where her stomach ended and her hips began, where she'd divide if her legs weren't gathered. He cried into Ansa's dress and held on to it. "You have to." he said against her privacy. Have to be her. Have to pretend. Have to help me.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 11, 2016, 05:07:16 am
Ophelia did not expect the expression she received. Naïve, because grief was unsparing and that darkly aristocratic face was not excused from its bruises. She flinched when he threw the apology back at her, stumbling over what she could possibly have said instead, in her head. Ophelia did not know this man. She couldn’t have known what she’d done wrong, in existing before him.

If his eyes had not been quite so frightening, she might have noticed some synchrony in their cheekbones and the color of their skin. The shape of their lips and the cut of their jaws. A brother, suggested by those genetic niceties. She took a step back, because agonized beauty was more frightening than anything terrible. Beautiful things in pain sat poorly with the heart. A little deer, caught in the glower of a wolf rabid in mourning. “Do—“ she began to inquire, bewildered by the flaring wrath. Had she not been told to come to this place? The atmosphere was somewhat convincing.

When he hit her, the sound cracked in the hanging quiet. Her face, thrown to the side under the blow, carried enough momentum to set her down on her knees. She had already been teetering, caught on the edge of fleeing. She blinked back large tears from the sting, and scrambled backward from him. Ophelia was quick to be back on her feet, but the anguished brother was equally quick to push her back down. This time, at least, she was thrown onto a bench. Pretty lips formed a confused ring. She’d never left him. She’d never met him. The wide copper stare caught view of the chained angel behind Kvell and she understood. This face, then. He knew it, even if she hadn’t. Ophelia felt a hard knot twist in the pit of her stomach.

Ophelia trembled, collapsing against the back of the bench when he stormed out. She was blinking, stunned, when Nathan came to her. It would have been a small relief, if she’d had time to process it. He was away from her as quickly as he’d come. Kvell’s whirling departure, and reentrance, had snuffed all but the candles flickering beneath the ascending body. If the effect had been concerning, before, it was a macabre sort of magic now. Would the Lady Ansa have been horrified by the treatment of her body and funeral rites? Ophelia had to hope, because the alternative seemed infinitely worse.

She stared at him, hands clutched before her heart, scarcely willing to breathe. She felt an apology forming at the back of her throat, because she had been taught to believe this kind of behavior must only be in response to some grave iniquity. Her face, then, the angel’s face, was a sin. Ophelia choked it back, because he had hit her for those words but moments before.

When he dropped before her, it was as if she’d been slapped again with the way she jumped. A draft through the room whispered through Ansa’s chains. Ophelia gave a little mewl of protest as Kvell sought the warmth of her lap, but didn’t dare move. Her heart beat heavily in her chest, this unpredictable man so suddenly close. His hands balled the fabric of the dress that was more familiar to him than it was to her. She felt dirty for wearing it and, at once, violated. She’d not asked to be fashioned into a phantom.

For all of the awfulness of that room and the body, which swayed gently on the uppermost chain, and the man, who had faulted her with sins of the sister, Ophelia was a compassionate soul. Sister Nettie had been so excited on her behalf. A family. Parents deceased, but siblings still surviving. Perhaps some aunts and uncles that didn’t live in town. A family. A family. Ophelia hadn’t understood the taste of those words in her mouth. She’d prayed for one, as a child, and then she’d grown up. But Sister Nettie’s smile had been so bright. It had almost reached her sad storm eyes. Ophelia thought about Sister Nettie when she heard Kvell begin to sob into her lap.

He said something, which she didn’t understand, half-muffled against the dress and cryptic beyond that. It made the knot in her stomach twist again, because she was frightened of what it might mean and of what his temper would say if she didn’t understand. Sister Nettie said she should be happy for a brother. Happy for a sister, too, even if that sister was dead. The bister eyes stared at Ansa’s flickering silhouette.

“I don’t know what I have to do.” She said at last. A small voice, tentative and drawn against the angry red that still smarted on her cheek. She could feel the eyes of the staff on her. “You’re supposed to be my brother.” She could be gentle for those words, even if her heart didn’t know them. “What am I supposed to do?” Ophelia asked. An offer, as if to a child.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 11, 2016, 05:34:36 pm
She'd not taken the hand the way Ansa would. Ophelia had been pretty though, on her knee, and given him lovely presents with the little violence he'd supplied before he left. Though he didn't turn them over in his mind now, he'd sample them later. Now every sob marked another wave of grief, and such tidals don't allow small, silver details. He was existing in broad traces of a steady brush, trying to soak its dark blood into his strung out soul. So he held on to that dress, the way it had held on to Ansa.

When he looked up, there was another thing alongside the madness in the night time marbles. Some of this new element was want for forgiveness, perhaps a lure, but most of it was insistence. It could leave Ophelia wondering, with his head below hers, if this was the view the bound and hanging angel was seeing. A film of clarity, also, to sharpen the edge between the black and the sclera. He knew she wasn't Ansa, then, and that it was important he not forget for a moment.

"I want--" but it was too modest. His hands on her waist, as though readying to shake her. "You will stay." he said. He could not be so fallen that he wholly believed she was the returning soul of the lady. It was not Nathan who had assembled the letter and drawn out the plan for her to come. It had been these shambles before her, of course. Anger, again, but without words or action, forbidding her to refuse. "I'll show you the manor, I'll give you this home to share." His hand up, because he couldn't leave Ansa's memory be any longer. First a light pinch on her cheekbones, more his dead sister's than his, and then his thumb on her upper lip. Here, Ophelia might even be prettier, because the upper lip is layered with suffering, and Ansa had only known his.

He was a bit lost then, without more to say. She couldn't be some throw away thing that he enjoyed and then burnt in various ways. A line that kept a bit of the life that had died to him. But she wasn't that life and that death, in essence. Not yet, so he couldn't knead with his will and wait for beautiful results. Kvell wasn't a hiding man, not in this manner, anyway, so he looked vulnerable at first as his breath calmed. Wasn't he kneeling already, again, and this time by her feet? A moment, to wait her for her heart to asses the offer.

And then he got up, behemoth, still inside what she might consider her space. He'd decided what her answer was. The lights flickered with sympathy and there was resignation in the dropped shoulders of the maids and in Nathan's lowered chin. It was Kvell's turn to extend a hand down to her. His gesture was far more demanding than the comforting and benevolent Ansa, who quietly watched them, her flight still lit by the candles he hadn't slayed. "Come. Welcome."

And he would let her hold his hand all the way over the carpet of this morbid spectacle, long wax lining their path, black thread still birthing tall smoke here and there. Outside the doors, he would lock his hands behind his back, and she would follow to the room she already knew. Further behind, the collection of servants would stalk, and then thin out as each person would turn off at different corridors, until Ophelia would be alone with him when he opened the door for her.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 12, 2016, 06:21:34 pm
Ophelia was a shell and Kvell was a tide of dark water, rising to sweep her along with his plans. She was told, not asked, she would stay. See the place. Share the home. He didn’t let her answer her own conscience, let alone him. Ophelia took his hand because she was afraid not to. To be left here seemed worse than to follow him. Ansa was too looming to stay. Had this been a funeral at all? Part of her felt as if it had simply been a transference of herself to Kvell’s keeping, witnessed by the sister he mourned. That would make this all a trick, in some fashion.

She followed him mutely from the room, the serving staff filing out behind her also. Ophelia wondered, if she’d not taken his hand, if she would have been left all alone in the room with her mirror death. It was not a consideration she particularly appreciated. She was no more pleased by the dwindling numbers accompanying them down the hall, though. When Nathan left them, she felt herself begin to drag her feet. The butler had seemed some fashion of reliable, at least.

“Thank you,” she said to Kvell when he opened the door, passing meekly into the room she now understood must have been Ansa’s.

Her sleep, that night, was troubled. Images of Ansa, the dark angel, stalked her through her dreams and whispered cruel things about what it was to die. Nathan the butler appeared to spirit her away from the haunting, but his face fell away when she took his hand and she was met instead with Kvell’s severely beautiful face and impossibly dark eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, and his teeth were sharp and she heard the howling of wild animals.

--

Morning came slowly, the windowless room providing little to indicate she should wake. When her body finally released her from her foggy and disturbing dreams, her limbs felt heavy. A slow sigh when she opened her eyes. Yesterday had not been part of her bizarre dream, it seemed, as she stared up at the posts of Ansa’s bed. She had slept in the dress.

Ophelia slipped from the bed and went to the vanity, pushing at her tangle of long hair as she peered in the mirror. Had her sister done the same, at some point not so long ago? She took the ends of her hair in one hand and held them up behind her to mimic the length of Ansa’s tresses as she’d seen them yesterday. Her expression was tired, from her restless sleep. She’d not seen Ansa’s face. Ophelia grimaced and let go of her hair. She’d done something morbid. To the desk, then.

Her hand hovered over the book sitting there. A journal of some sort, it was apparent. Was it prying too much to look inside? The dead didn’t care, but would Kvell if he knew? She opened it anyway.

There are shadows all the time, now. They keep me up late at night and I don’t know why. I hear the maids murmur outside my room and say things like ‘she’s gotten worse’ and I know they think I’m making it up. I’m not, though. Mom and Dad stopped sending me to the hospital because the shadows never got any better. Pills don’t shut them up, either. I don’t understand why they keep trying to blame this on my mind. Kvell doesn’t judge me, at least.

He understands me and he doesn’t blame me when I get upset. Sometimes, I just can’t take it. There’s too much yelling and I feel like all those flickering shapes are going to close in and it makes me panic. Kvell knows how to make me feel better, though. I think pain bring clarity. I need to feel like I’m dying. Or that someone is dying. The help staff give us looks when they think we aren’t looking. They won’t say anything because Mom and Dad never did. But Mom and Dad never said much of anything. I wonder if they regretted keeping me, instead of the other one. I wonder if the other one is alive. Maybe she sees the shadows too. Maybe she hears them. Maybe she got to die.

I’d like to be nameless. I’d like to not exist. Kvell would be mad at me, though. He gets so mad at me when I say things like that. I get mad at him too.


Ophelia shut the book quickly and marched back over to the bed. She shouldn’t have read it. She knelt at the bed to pray. This place was wrong. Sister Nettie was wrong. She shouldn’t have come. How had Ansa died? Had it been by her own hand, then? Or Kvell’s? Ophelia shuddered and squeezed her palms tighter together. She prayed that she could find the courage to say she was leaving, today. Prayed that she could forget Ansa’s body swaying on those chains. Prayed for Ansa’s soul. She prayed until she was sure she’d been forgotten in the room.

She had expected that someone would come. Ophelia inhaled sharply and decided to change, at least. Maybe she could find the way out on her own and she’d not have to face whatever expression Kvell had for her. Sad or angry. Both were a bit frightening on his face. Brother or not, she’d not known this man. She couldn’t possibly be expected to endure this strange arrangement simply because it suited him.

Ophelia realized her clothes from the day before had been taken away. Someone had come while she’d been at the funeral, then. Or while she’d been sleeping. She didn’t remember seeing them when she had come back to the room, but she hadn’t really been looking either. A large wardrobe across from the left side of the bed invited her to look inside. Everything was soft and sweet. It wasn’t what she would have pictured, from the roiling dark that had apparently brewed in Ansa’s mind. But then, there was the delicate thing she was already wearing.

She grabbed a dress at random; it seemed Ansa had owned nothing but, and a couple of blouses and skirts. Ophelia shrugged into the dress with her back to the vanity. She didn’t want to see herself in Ansa’s clothes, really. It was a little ivory sheath of satin that slipped no further than her mid-thigh, with lace cap sleeves and a blue satin ribbon that tied at the small of her waist. Doll clothes cut for a woman’s body. Ophelia thought it seemed like an impractical garment, even more so than the billowy dress from the day before. Perhaps Ansa didn’t go out much. She found a brush on the nightstand and plaited her hair before she went to the door.

Ophelia wasn’t precisely sure what she’d expected, but she felt some sinking fear realized in her when the handle would not budge. It had been locked from the outside. A peculiar feature for a bedroom at all. She wiggled the handle again with some ill-placed hope. Clearly, she would not be going anywhere until she was sent for.     
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 12, 2016, 10:27:54 pm
The rooster went along the corridor. The mask was black, lambskin, as most of the others. Below the upper beak, his human face and mouth. In the beginning, on days like these, it had been a cowl, but The Lady had requested Nathan's disguise be remade so he could at least decide on his hair. Today he'd brushed it back with oils to look proper, despite the ominous cover for his eyes, forehead and cheekbones, hoping to comfort Ophelia, if just a little. For Ansa, when she'd gotten used to it, he'd spike it on top.

He walked by a bear and a goat, complete with leather horns, on his way to her room. Those masks were not allowed to speak, so there was nothing human peeking out from their design. Kvell had not said to forgo knocking, so the butler took that liberty, thrice, before turning the latch and presenting himself into the room. His breath stayed in his esophagus for a short while when he saw her in that white ensemble. Ansa's mirror image, with a new posture. What a sweet thing. What madness, here. Hand on his chest and a bow. He was not to mention the masks, even if she asked.

"Sir Kvell wants you." he said as softly as he could while still being perfectly clear. The girl would follow, of course, because he was ordered to make sure she did. Nathan tried to read her pace, so they could take the corridor in her tempo, but he could do little to shield her from the rest of the staff, running about with their tasks, also dressed finely, but disguised darkly. "I hope you slept as well as one can, in a new place." he offered, but it was small, as they passed a snake with sharp brows. He hated that mask, even if he liked conversing with that keeper that had been tasked to wear it.

There were windows in the dancing hall, great windows, displaying morning and a view of the garden. The garden had a tall a labyrinth, in its center, its green walls speckled with blue roses. It was a trick, but Kvell kept them dyed in consistent cycles. They would be blue for the rest of their lives, despite the ivory that was their birthright. The hall was splendid, its size emphasized by the laid out table in the middle. It was not custom or etiquette to take food in the center of the floor. The Oleander Manor was not a place of outside traditions. The sunlight alone, at this hour, was enough to light the room, but not without long shadows. On of those dark shapes cut the table in half, right where the flower arrangement was.

The table was large for two people. A flock of leather birds bowed and scattered perfectly to let Nathan and Ophelia pass as she was lead to the feast. Kvell wore a red shirt and tie underneath the black jacket, over the black pants. Blackened coal cut through with fire. The eyes were still marble, but some of the purple had gone from below. The hair was no longer a nest. Nathan stopped and let her walk by herself. If she made a motion of attachment or retreat back toward the butler, the beautiful Oleander son would disapprove. But he would still hold out the chair for her.

The siblings would be sharing a corner of the table, her side letting her see the garden. It was an unorthodox setting, but it allowed closeness. On the end farthest from that corner were two chairs with sheets over their backs. "I don't know your tastes." he said, and would slide her chair in for her before taking his own seat. The porcelain and glass was exquisite, new, and hers was laid out like his. Ophelia would notice soon that she'd gotten none of the silver that accompanied the plates and bowls on his side. He started putting food on her plate. If there was a theme to the mixture of vegetables, breads and eggs, it would have been color. He poured her water and ripped white petals off the rose that garnished the fowl, and left the pale notes floating in the glass.

"I'm sorry I didn't come to see you last night." he said as he filled his own plate. "Tonight, maybe." These words were more to himself, she sound of resolution. Kvell went about cutting a slice of meat for her, and stabbing it deftly with some of the eggs as he held it up for her mouth. The food would not go away until it was accepted. The act wasn't an effort. He'd done this many times. The strangeness of it did not even register with the lord, but one of the birds, in the distance, tilted her head out of worry.

"I would like to discuss your stay here." he would go on, feeding himself twice before offering her a strawberry on the fork, hand underneath it, so it wouldn't bleed onto the white dress. "I propose forever." It did bleed, on his ring finger without a ring. Strawberry blood looked stark on his white digit. His eyes studied her expression before he let out a sigh, and afforded a quick look toward the silent rooster. "But I will agree to a trial of thirty days from today." He took another bite. The ham, the cucumber. A piece of lanky stone eating meat and greens - it might as well have been jest. "Would it be acceptable to you?" He ate more, tending to his plate as an obvious escape. There was blood on his teeth when he looked up again, knife and fork resting on the table. "I would consider it a mercy." A flick of a fast tongue, and the enamel rows were pristine again.

From this way, half his features were lit with what was coming through the windows. The skin was almost turned to nothing, leaving that eye floating below the severe eyebrow. A beautiful, impossible thing, if not for the shadow on the remaining half of his features. The white of that shaded eye was the only visible point, there. It could have been her possibilities with the terms he'd given; wondrous riches, and abyss.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 13, 2016, 11:25:25 pm
As if her rattling at the doorknob had summoned him, the butler arrived with a rap on the wall. She stepped back as he let himself in, giving a little start when she saw the strange beaked mask. Ophelia was in some small way relieved when she realized it was Nathan dressed oddly, but her posture implied she had not been put fully at ease. “Why are you wearing that mask?” she asked him, following him from the room. She was barefoot, because her own shoes had been taken and she had found not a single pair in Ansa’s things.

He didn’t answer, striking up morning pleasantries instead. Ophelia didn’t have an exceptionally good reason to trust the butler, but his manner was more inviting than anything else in the Manor. That, and her own honest nature, compelled her to speak freely. “No, I didn’t, honestly.” She said. “I had a lot of nightmares. The funeral yesterday, it was…” Ophelia trailed off then. Honesty did not require poor manners and she suspected any comment on Ansa strung up might be taken as such.

“It’s a very nice room, though. The bed was very comfortable.” She said, instead. Ophelia shied away from the masks which frightened her, though she did make an effort to keep her steps straight. Superficially, she understood the faces from the night before must certainly be behind the masks. Somehow, that didn’t make her feel much better.

The dancing hall was almost as intimidating as Kvell, himself. When Nathan stopped, she stopped as well, but the expression on her face was distinctly confusion. There were formalities here that she hadn’t learned at the orphanage. Ophelia suspected she would not have learned them in an etiquette book, either, but that might simply have been her own suspicions. It wasn’t a mentality she could be blamed for, with all of the masked servants flitting so and whispering thus.

When she realized Kvell was expecting she come, she was hasty, and tripped over herself as she tried to make up for her error. Her stumble sounded extraordinarily loud in the otherwise silent hall. She was blushing profusely for the clumsiness, and thanked Kvell in a rushed breath when she took her seat.

The man of the manor did not seem any more inviting, this morning, but a good deal more composed. That, alone, took some edge of tension out of her shoulders. Perhaps she had expected to be scolded. Ophelia, it seemed, was a more impressionable soul than her departed sister. But the orphaned twin had been raised in a place where right behavior was expected from each unto another and harsh behavior was only in response to error. She had the sweetness of a wild thing that had not yet encountered human harshness. That sort of naivety would have frustrated Ansa.

“Thank you for your effort.” She said, though she could have guessed Kvell had not personally prepared any of the food. Ophelia meant to protest then, when he tried to serve her, but was distracted by the lack of silverware at her place. That dilemma puzzled her. She hoped to eat, in part because she hungry and in part because she had been taught it was rude to refuse a generous meal. However, she didn’t wish to ask for utensils. Somehow, it seemed as if that would be wrong of her. The table had been laid so meticulously that an oversight struck her as unlikely. Besides, if it was, she wondered what sort of punishment the absentminded servant responsible might encounter. She bit down on her tongue, instead.

“Oh. It’s alright. I’m sure you had a lot of other things on your mind.” She said, when he apologized. Tonight, he said. Which meant he was not intending that she leave, yet. Ophelia paled a bit. She realized, then, that he was holding the food out for her to take and that the absence of silverware had not been a mistake at all. He did it like she should find it normal, which made it more uncomfortable. Had Ansa taken food from her—their brother like this? Ansa’s journal had made it seem as if they had been quite close. Perhaps it had been comforting to her. Ophelia did not find this comforting.

She glanced around the room and was not met by a single of the staff. Reluctantly, she took the food. He wanted her to stay. Ophelia caught the look in Nathan’s direction and wondered if the butler had spoken on her behalf. He understood, then, that this whole place was strange. That Kvell was strange and the Manor was strange and the very invitation had been strange. She didn’t need to even begin considering the dark angel ascension that had serviced as a funeral, yesterday.

If Nathan had argued for her, then thirty days was a gift. She took the strawberry slowly. A mercy he said, with a bloody mouth. It was confirmed then. Ophelia wondered if she ought to tell him that it was probably illegal to compel her to stay like this. She was not so bold. “It is—“ she found herself momentarily unable to finish her statement. Something akin to locking her own shackles, she feared. Did Kvell keep promises, she wondered. Did this count as a promise? “It is acceptable.” She murmured. Did he know he was frightening? Had Ansa found him so?

She took the rest of her meal in relative silence and, by the end, she was not so perturbed by taking her food assisted. It was peculiar, still, but his bearing suggested that her predicament could be so very much worse. Ophelia thought she ought to try her best, too, given that she had now agreed to this with her own mouth. “How are you feeling today, Sir?” she asked. Perhaps she should have called him Kvell, but he was barely a brother in name. She couldn’t have known that Ansa would use that title in other tones. Sometimes cruel, sometimes breathless. Always, though, when her episodes were at their worst. The reckless times.

“If I’m going to stay here for a while, could I maybe see the rest of the Manor today? It’s beautiful, from the outside. I haven’t gotten to see much from within.” She suggested, as well. A faint optimism in her voice. Perhaps her sweetness was more like a dog’s. That would have frustrated Ansa even more.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 14, 2016, 07:37:34 pm
Kvell had certainly not made any of the food himself. That implication, him working the pots and hotplates while the kitchen staff looked on or assisted, was tickling but not as amusing to him as the fade on her cheeks and below her eyes when he provided her first bite all the way to her lips. He kept it steady for her, as she contemplated what to do next. Her puzzlement was eloquent and honest. It was a delicate silence that padded her decision of eating by his hand. It was rewarding, he discovered, to have her try it. In many ways, she could not be Ansa, even if she would have to be. He made sure to taste the fork himself, when she’d put some of herself on it. If he was aware of the intimacy of that gesture, he did not give that away.

He tasted the strawberry blood, as well, sucking the belly of that finger clean while his eyes studied her as she answered him about the parameters of her stay. A smile on him, the short kind that might still hold some important thoughts, the kind that ended even-toned haggling and accompanied a handshake. There were other smiles for her, increasingly warmer, as the act of bringing food to her became lighter. Eventually they found their rhythm. He learned the right size for her bites and how she preferred he slide the utensils out of her closed petals, and she learned to read when he intended to give her more to eat. They became rather efficient, though it wasn’t cerebral, yet.

“Better than can be expected.” He answered her and looked down into the sweet porridge, licking some off the spoon that had just been with her. “You’re here.” A fact, like someone sick might speak of medicine. It seemed though, someone who didn’t shy from the bitterness of necessary treatment. “Lady.” He added to tease. A grin, a glee, a little unsettling. She could call him what she wanted, because she would call him something honest, soon. “I suppose I feel a bit excited about you.” Have you ever gotten yourself a great gift without knowing if it’s what you want? The light passed the center line of his face, making it noticeably more illustrious than abyssal. He chewed on a slice of pear, and the end of his lit jaw made a beard of claws with the shadows between the subtle muscles there.

Their mother’s eyelashes spread a bit when Ophelia broke the silence again. Another bit of the buttery porridge had been on its way to her mouth when she spoke. He took it back for himself and said “Of course.” with honey on the corner of his mouth before his tongue raked that gold inside. He wore a lighter heart and gestured toward the door, wrist flicking and the power of the motion gathering at his fingertips. Regal manners learnt over a physically strong base. “We can go around and you can discover your… our…“ he had to suck that sweetened lip then, to think of the right thing to say. His tall neck bent slightly. It was flawed, vulnerable. “discover Oleander.” The nod meant he was satisfied, and his composure returned, lip popping out. The way he turned, the shadow that wasn’t lemonade from the window swallow the smile all the way to cut the remaining black iris in half, and he was back to his usual form. “And then we will go back to your room, and draw out the contract.” His head tilted with friendliness that was really just wickedness. “For your stay here.”

“Sir.” Nathan said from where he stood. A strong, practiced protest. It was perfect, in that what was essentially a bark sounded respectful, hopeful to tug at the better nature of the man she was having a meal with. If she turned to the butler, she would see his chest out, and it would make him look almost formidable in the mask. The Sir answered with a hand, nails to the ceiling, palm toward the rooster. Also practiced. I hereby decapitate your protest, despite what validity you might think it has. The rooster kept an incredible tension in his shoulders, but relaxed his chest. Kvell would ask for her attention back with a sweet, closed smile.

When they were done he moved his chair around the corner, the nearness sure to have her sit up straight, or even retreat into the back of her own seat. He dabbed her lips with a napkin her side had not been provided with either. It wasn’t rough, and their eyes didn’t meet, as his attention was on getting her clean, as though she wasn’t already. When he took her hand, stood them up, and walked by the rooster, Nathan did not follow immediately. A little rebellion stemming from a great amount of anger. He would not have stricken her as someone who would oppose Kvell. A greater oddness, though, might be that Kvell did not chastise Nathan for it. Perhaps there were things the Oleander son respected, after all. Eventually the butler had to come along, when the pair had almost traveled the entirety of the room without him. Surely it would leave Ophelia wondering what was so upsetting with the contract that would make a loyal rooster caw, and a respectful master persist.

“You have seen the welcoming hall, but some of its charm might have been lost in the haste, yesterday.” Kvell said, his grip on her hand loosening somewhat, leaving it up to her whether she wanted to apply her own pressure to keep the contact, or walk at her own pace, on her own two naked feet. “How about we make that our goal? Father and mother were forced to boast in their position, and it is of course important to start big for the guests, so the hall will worth it, architecturally.” The walls on their way were barren. On certain places there were nails still where pictures had hung. Kvell did not mention them. “When you’re out, you are of course allowed to go wherever you want.” When she was not locked in her room, he meant. “But don’t go into the labyrinth in the garden without me. It is a special place. I’d like to show you myself.” A request from Kvell had the sound of an order.

The kitchen was on their way. It was well lit, and accommodated a sleuth of culinary crafts. He would tell her he prided himself in feeding the guests, gastronomic art a tradition in the family. The large space would be mostly unused, though, and the people tending to the few active stations underlined that. “If you’re tired or frustrated or hurt, and you will be, you can order anything from here.” He said. He gave no sign of understanding how ominous that sounded. “I pick the dessert makers myself.” Blood tooth, sweet tooth.

For her pleasure, as they walked, there would be two private tea rooms, one with traditional porcelain and one with minimalistic designs, glass, steel, mostly. A gym, and following in the modern vein, a white room with black entertainment apparatuses, screens, projectors. Before they reached the welcoming, open hall, that would have twin, dividing staircases to the upper parts of Oleander Manor, there was a big room for sitting and taking visitors. It was important to continue dazzling the guests after the hall, he said. There was a green, faded theme here.

“It’s a bit classical.” He said, brushing fingers against a wall with the patterned paper. He turned around and let the wall support him, allowing her free reign, if she wished, as he had in the other rooms. “I saw this room often. They liked to show me off. I never really cared for the design, this time around. At one point it was blue, and that’s how I think it should have always been.” A small disappearance into that memory. Absently he touched one of the upside down water glasses on a tray on a table by his wall. He put the glass on its side. The edge of the tray stopped it from becoming glitter on the floor. With the image that he made, red and black to the oceanic backdrop, it wouldn’t be hard to know why a mother and father that aimed to show off would request their offspring be with them, turning over glasses. He pushed himself off the wall with a flick of his shoulder blades, and nurtured that force to let him walk closer to her. Nathan hurried to take his place so he could put the glass back. “What is your favorite color, Ophelia?” Kvell asked. An invitation to a feather-light game of tag or chase, the way he followed her. “What is your favorite thing? And what is your favorite body part?” A playful spring in his legs, challenging her bare feet. The hard set of Nathan’s mouth, though, as he watched his master with the delicate guest, suggested he did not recognize this initiative to be the prelude to any laughing matter.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 16, 2016, 02:31:50 pm
Ophelia watched him taste the utensil and wondered if he felt she was his sister. He had known a face like hers, so perhaps it was an easier concept to grasp. For her part, Kvell was still a stranger with a last name she’d never been given. She did not comment on how familiarly he treated her. It seemed like an impolite thing to do. To notice was to admit she did not feel any of the same. If he were going to these lengths for her own comfort, it would be rude to question his hospitality.

They made it through the meal without incident, though Kvell had been careful in feeding her, such that she’d not have had a chance to mess her dress even if she’d been clumsier about taking her food. She was willing to please and he seemed quick to adapt to her own angles and needs.

She was unsure of what to make of the things he said. Lady, in jest, as if it had been funny that she had called him Sir. Excited, but she didn’t know why. He’d lost someone dear to him. Ophelia had expected her presence might be more hurtful than anything else. His manner yesterday had suggested as much. Maybe this was some form of denial? Whether that was to her benefit or not, Ophelia wasn’t sure. Certianly, if she had not had the security of a month’s long trial she would have been more concerned by it.

He sounded pleasant enough when he agreed to showing her the place. Discover Oleander. The place, her place, maybe. The name, her name, maybe. When he was being agreeable like this, despite the peculiar qualities of their meal together, she had to admit he was lovely. A dark prince out of one of those books the Sisters had confiscated from some of the girls in their teen years. Ophelia felt she could be objective about his looks, because she felt nothing toward him. She wondered if Ansa had found him beautiful or frightening. Or both.

“Contract?” Ophelia echoed. The way Nathan protested struck a chord with her, and she remembered clearly the haunting display that had been Kvell in unfettered grief and the faceless chained seraph. Her question was silenced with the same gesture that cut off Nathan. Exacting, the both of them. Kvell, perhaps, more so. She returned his smile, because there was no other choice presented. That friendly expression remained until he went to clean her pink lips and the corners relaxed even as the rest of her tensed and shrank back. He had hit her, before. She had not forgotten, regardless of where it sat in his own memories. As it was, if Kvell had bothered to look closely, he would have seen a soft purple shadow blossoming along the ridge of her cheekbone. Ophelia had always had delicate skin.

She was guided from the room when he had finished polishing her mouth to his standards. A curious, doe-eyed look for Nathan, when they passed the rooster, because she didn’t know if she needed his help. He had bothered speaking up, which meant she was not wrong to think mention of contracts was not trivial. Maybe Nathan was the hero in this story, then. A golden-haired, blue-eyed rooster to sweep her away from the dark prince Kvell. Neither man said a word when Nathan was slow to follow and Ophelia felt it was more foreboding than if Kvell had scolded the good servant for it. She let go of his hand as soon as his grip was light enough that she deemed it acceptable.

Ophelia was fairly happy to hear Kvell speak of more mundane things. Small details of his parents, her parents, and what memories of them were written into the very architecture of the manor. As they walked through the halls, Ophelia was keenly aware of the disparity between the Oleander son and herself. Wealth was not startling to him. She wondered if St. Emiliani’s would have been. “Sister Marta said something similar to all of us, when I was a child. That first impressions were the most important, so we should always smile no matter who we met.” Ophelia offered. “It’s nice that your house can do the same.” Would he wonder what sort of impression he’d left on her, yesterday?

She nodded obediently, when he told her not to go into the labyrinth without him. Ophelia had no intention to do that sort of thing in a place like this, because it seemed like the sort of scenario that begged to end unpleasantly. She didn’t say that she had very little intention to follow him into the labyrinth, either. Ophelia thought she might consider it if Nathan were there. It seemed the butler had very rapidly become her sense of a safety net.

In the same manner each phase of the tour seemed punctuated by some new and vaguely unsettling hint into Kvell’s life, the kitchen started nicely and ended such that her hand was on her bruising cheek as she rolled over what he had said. Tired and frustrated and hurt did not sound like anything she wanted. “I will be hurt?” she asked and Kvell did not answer her. Ansa would have laughed.

She was delighted by the tea rooms, particularly the one with porcelain cups, and asked if maybe they could take tea there during her stay. Ophelia had never formally taken tea, but the idea had always appealed to her. She enjoyed things that felt like tradition, on principle. The prospect of high tea was apparently enough to distract her from her earlier concerns. It was, in fact, a nice enough distraction that the rest of their walk was actually enjoyable to her. Kvell might have noticed her better mood in the way she changed her pace so that she walked side by side with him and let the measured space she’d been keeping between them dwindle just a little.

It was a bit like Ansa, that way. Ansa, who had days darker than Ophelia could likely imagine, still beamed like a sunny child when given pretty things to hold. Many of the tea sets were, in fact, selected by or for Ansa. Many of the broken china cups, shattered violently on the floor and swept away by hasty maids, had also been destroyed by or for Ansa.

In the sitting room, Ophelia was prepared to listen to Kvell reminisce. He seemed willing, as well, at first. When he looked this little bit dreamy, it made her want to come up with excuses for the things he said that scared her. She must be misunderstanding. She was being paranoid. He had been drowning in sorrow, yesterday. He’d been nothing but hospitable, if a bit odd, today.

But then he was asking her questions. Benign at first, and then more prying than Ophelia had been with herself. “I like blue, actually. Like the sky when the clouds are very wispy and light.” She admitted. She inclined her head and fidgeted where she stood, in regard to the other questions. “I don’t have a lot of things. There is a wrist watch I’m attached to, I guess. I was told it was my—our father’s.” she said. And then, “Favorite body part? I… don’t know. Hands, maybe?” she tugged at her braid. An unexpected question for which she had no good answer. Did Nathan pity her, floundering in this simple conversation?

“What about you, Sir, is your favorite color blue also? I saw the roses in the labyrinth hedges and you said you preferred this room blue.” She smiled at him. A commonality might be something nice to find. “And your favorite thing and… body part?” she thought it sounded lewd when she said it and it made her blush. “Thank you for showing me around.” Ophelia added, to make up for her own awkwardness as they walked back toward her room. She thought she might actually remember how to get back to the sitting room, walking at a relaxed pace without a funeral looming over her head.

“Maybe we should talk about that contract you mentioned?” she steered the conversation toward even less comfortable waters in her fluster, as they reached the door some minutes later. “I mean, that is, it’s certainly not necessary…” she cleared her throat and opened the door. Was she supposed to invite him in? Ophelia stared down at her feet instead. 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 16, 2016, 09:52:52 pm
It was quaint to listen to her relate to the masks mother and father had to build in stone and mortar and glue. Maybe all struggles are the same. If only he wasn't so addicted to a certain aesthetic of struggle. Maybe Ophelia would fare better for it. Maybe Ansa would have, also. This was a new thing for him, this kind of courtship. Little victories, her closeness, her relenting fear. Eggshells under his leather soles following her un-soled ones. Blue, watch, hands. He whispered it with little flicks of his vocal chords, as he trailed behind her, diving into that little rhythm with his head high. She'd touched her hair as though to show off those hands.

"Blue?" he asked when she suggested it. "Blue." He had to relive the color in all the ways he'd experienced it. Black eyes caught the mark on her cheek. It was unfortunate that both twins would bruise to well. "Blue is good." He was savoring the corridors as they passed in reverse of how he'd shown them to her. Soon he got to wave at the chefs again. "But I'm a red soul. Up close, red is frustratingly gentle." It was very true, she'd find out. "I have a suit from when I was a child. I hated it at first, but then it was the best thing." He gave her a knowing smile at that. "And my favorite body part is my hands, as well." he held them out for her, and wiggled the fingers. They were pretty like his gait was, something inherently robust forced into a comfortable life. A soldier made a prince. He shook his head at her gratitude. "What kind of host would I be, if I wasn't also a guide?"

He contemplated something by her threshold when she'd opened the door. His mood was lighter. Nathan stepped quickly to catch up, having let them have their conversation to themselves so far. "Sir." the flightless bird tried again, and this time Kvell touched his chest with all five fingers and none of the palm.

"Go get the mice." Kvell said and it was through a cold voice-box. On stale joints the rooster turned. An order, if there had ever been one. Kvell stepped into the room, passed her if need be. It seemed the butler had drawn some civility out of the lord. "Sorry. He is passionate about some things." he explained, tugging at the collar of his shirt, and excusing one button. "But so am I. And this isn't the Brandston manor." Kvell shrugged out of his jacket and allowed her to read and deal with the atmosphere as she pleased. He didn't look at her when the jacket slid off his arms and he pressed the door shut with his shoulder. He was doing something, clearly. In the process of setting something up.

"Your hands." he said as he came to her, for her, flinging the jacket back expertly. His posture hadn't changed, but in the light of this room, the power in it was stressed more than it had been in the more open spaces. If she didn't give them to him, he'd lift them himself and look at them, looming body dancing hers backward, until she hit the bed with her legs. It was fluent, but it wasn't asking for compliance. He touched her knuckles and could measure the distance between them with the length of his thumbs. "They're good. Let's be careful with them." and then he let go, pushing her into the bed. He didn't need the force he'd used yesterday, in front of eternal Ansa. The edge of the bed would trip her easily.

Kvell followed soon, and though he enjoyed her struggle, be it verbal or physical, he wouldn't allow it to slow him down as he crossed her wrists against the board and stuck his remaining hand under the mattress above her head. His knees on either side of her, he pulled out leather bands with rings not unlike the ones already on the wooden panel. He clad her forearms carefully with them, one by one, allowing the hand not being attended to it's fruitless rebellion. The clicks of the rings that would have her arms hanging from the rings already in place were deafening. He allowed himself to enjoy her upset as he undid his sleeves and rolled them. Red.

"Sky blue, you said." he remembered as he dismounted with his long legs and came to the closet and drew out one of the shoe boxes underneath the dresses. The door opened to the room. Maids of roughly the same height with the same masks. Mice, kind and alert, that would listen but never answer her. Some of them had to come in for them all to be able to see Ophelia. "Perfect." he declared as he took out an apparatus that fit in his hand. The little machine was clearly built toward its point. He placed the opened shoe box beside her on the bed, where she couldn't kick at it. Ophelia would see that there was no rooster in the silent audience.

"See?" he beckoned, a little vial of light blue held between two fingers. "Your favorite." It was easy for him to straddle her legs and push up the dress. He'd not provided her with undergarments, and he'd be very surprised to learn she'd fashioned something out of something else. "Our contract." he said, when the poor dress had been moved up around her chest, exposing her stomach and ribbs. "Our witnesses." he nodded to the mice.

It was unpleasant, of course, the way he'd carry on with the needle over her sensitive ribs, no matter the cooling swab he followed with. He might have been attractive to her, with his focus, bent over her with his hair in one eye, if she could see through the uninvited pain, and this violation. He would let her have the rumpled dress in her mouth, to steel herself of it, if she wished for it. If she did bite into the dress, would she feel the special way the fabric wrinkled under her teeth? Would the dress remember that mouth, from Ansa? There were other things with teeth marks, in the locked cabinet in the corner.

When he was finaly done, none could know exactly how long - this room was windowless, and timeless because of it - he washed her agitated, bleeding side in the solution again, and kissed her forehead sweetly. With his knees and hands around her, him over her, did they look like lovers to the mice? "There. Our contract is ready, Ophelia." he said, and would let her say her bit, if she wished. With flicks that would be insults to her struggle so far, he released the rings from each other, and left her arms free but still leather clad. "Aren't you glad it's in a place you won't loose it?" if she fought, he'd remind her dearly that moving too much would upset the text he'd immortalized on her. With the machine placed out of reach in it's box of vials, the brother didn't have much to fear from the prodigal sister. He wiped a tear from her and licked it off his thumb gingerly, waiting for her command that he leave, or he would hold her, if he thought she couldn't take anymore of the Oleander hospitality.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 21, 2016, 06:59:12 pm
Ophelia had fooled herself into thinking she had made some form of progress. Surely the previous evening could be blamed on fits of grief. Kvell was peculiar but not unkind, she had decided. Their walk through the manor had been pretty and mild. The house was lovely. Kvell had been polite.

That small and blossoming comfort, a hope the coming month might even be enjoyable, wilted with his strides into her room. Careful with her hands? As if he did not intend to be careful with the rest of her. She remembered he had implied as much when they’d passed the kitchen. His jacket, tossed away, made him imposing in red. She clutched her hands together before her. Misplaced protectiveness as she stepped back and he carried her momentum further so she toppled onto the bed.

Ophelia gasped when he moved over her, capturing her wrists and pulling her captive. She struggled to look past him toward the door. She recalled the outside lock and wondered if Nathan would set her free. Ophelia remembered that Nathan was Kvell’s, though. Sympathy did not warrant disobedience. The door would stay shut. Her appeals could be for the Master only.

She wriggled fruitlessly as he made to strap her down. “Please, what are you doing?” she demanded, a flush in her cheeks to pair the adrenaline spiking through her veins. “I’m your sister!” she yelped. A claim she wished to believe, because it might tie her to his compassion. Ophelia had not met Ansa. He climbed off of her when she was secured and the leather bit into her soft wrists. Big tears smarted in her eyes, threatening to overflow and carry with it the rising panic. She couldn’t sit up enough to see what Kvell was looking for, though she heard the wardrobe open.

A file of maids, with masks fashioned to look like mice, came through the door and closed it behind them. They were silent, and that was frightening. “What’s going on?” she asked. None of them answered, but Kvell brought back a device that gave her some clue. She’d not seen one in person, but she understood its purpose. “What are you going to do?” she asked again, pulling at her restraints. She kicked her legs to push herself away from him, but couldn’t make it far. Her shoulders would not allow it without some significant hurt. “Please, Sir Kvell, I don’t understand.” She whimpered as he put himself astride her again.

Pristine skin as the dress was rumpled upward, warm and flushed with her struggling. “Stop!” she shrieked then, her modesty compelling her to thrash beneath him in protest. A pretty display as the fine ribs danced with her panting. Contract. Witnesses. Ophelia began to cry. Ansa had cried, on occasion, but never like this. Ansa cried when she was angry, but she’d never been scared of anything. Ansa had given him tears at the same time her lips had given him kisses. She’d never wept.

Large crystal tears caught in between her long lashes, framing Ophelia’s frightened expression in glitter. The fear was quickly supplanted by the rude pain of Kvell’s inking device. She bit hard at the fabric of the dress, tossed high and out of his way, as she sobbed. She did stop struggling, though, still save her fevered breath. It wasn’t for any love of whatever mark he was branding onto her virgin flesh, but out of concern for causing herself greater pain if she made his hand slip. She was, perhaps, as concentrated as he was.

At some point, her tears dried and the stifled crying fell silent. Ophelia squeezed her eyes shut and prayed to disappear, clenching her fists and remaining as still as she was able. The pain had dulled with the spreading ache of the places he had finished. She decided she had been betrayed. By Sister Netty and by the mice and Nathan and this brother of hers. What Ophelia didn’t know was whether or not she deserved it.

When he stopped and leaned over to kiss her forehead, she flinched and opened her eyes. “Contract…” she mumbled and stared at him. Clearly worn weary, she blinked and looked longingly at the door. “What does it say?” she asked, flat and quiet. He released her wrists from the rings but left the leather. Bound still, then. On her wrists and in her flesh. Some Devil’s contract.

He suggested she should be glad that he’d done such a thing to her and she almost laughed, but found that it hurt. His thumb below her eye, where the tears were still caught in the lace of her lashes. “I don’t understand any of this.” She said softly. “I thought—I thought I was supposed to be your family and…” she had nothing to say of Ansa’s funeral. Ophelia closed her eyes again, exhaling slowly. She didn’t bother trying to struggle. She didn’t think of running. Nothing in this man’s presence, surely. She was sore. Her wrists ached, too. And her shoulders. She hugged her arms across her chest. She felt very alone.

Ophelia didn’t tell him to leave, because she wasn’t sure if being alone was worse. She would never have asked him to stay, either. She wondered where the gentler man that had shown her the manor had disappeared to. Had Kvell just been pretending, then? Another slow breath. He’d told her she could have sweets from the kitchen when she was feeling hurt like this. It hadn’t been an idle comment. Ophelia hoped the desserts were exceptionally good. She couldn’t imagine a satisfactory reconciliation for this sort of violation.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 22, 2016, 10:50:12 pm
Kvell was elated with Ophelia. Her clutched hands that would not be the shield she wanted, her breaths at every turn, her eyes gracing his shoulders on their way through the door. "We are preparing our contract." he assured her, when she demanded. There could have been jest in his tone, sometimes he would pepper it for Ansa's fire, but the treasure hidden in Ophelia was not the scorching or the teeth. "But do you know what it entails to be my sister, Ophelia?" he replied when she tried that claim. Her words had been lovely enough to earn her a swift grace along her jawline, though. There was some jest in that.

He couldn't reward all her pleas even though he wanted to encourage them. It was distracting equally when she fell quiet, digging teeth into the dress. There was a glass casing around his black eyes for her, when her suffering hung around her like another color of her skin, an appearance bejeweled with large stars at the corner of her eyes. Sometimes he had to sit just a little harder on her legs, when he pushed the needle deeper, if only for the intimacy. He wondered if she felt the weight of the sermon of his branding her. When the machine shared her silence, he delicately traced the outlines of her new marks. The letters were deep because of the red shadows. He wanted to pet them, and see her suffer from it. Instead he answered her question.

"On a morning when the sun cut the dancing room, Ophelia promised to stay for thirty days. On penalty of great suffering for breaching, and for a reward of greater suffering still, she would know the Oleander manor with her brother. And on the last day, if she wished to go, she would have all that she would ever want if money could buy it, and if she would stay, she would stay forever. But if she stayed, she would stay with her tattooed, thorn-cut, half-eaten heart." His meter was perfect, reading her mark back to her. Kvell had thought of the phrasing since Nathan had strongly suggested the month of trial. He had written in cursive, of course, and in a language Ansa and he had invented, an amalgamation of latin and gaelic. And whimsy.

He stayed on the bed, keeping the box away, safely away, so she couldn't fear its return. Ansa had never sat like this, holding herself. It was curious to him, and it laid a few electrical pangs across his heart. "You are my family, Ophelia." he echoed. "My only family." he promised as he reached to stroke those crossed arms. He wanted her like collectors want porcelain things, how could he not, when her quiet had soaked saliva into her dress like she was some agonized but obedient loyal. There was no regret in him, even as he stroked her gold rose hair as the mice left, some shoulders in that crowd shaking. They knew to close the door carefully. "Was it so terrible? You've never felt like that before. Isn't there novelty in newness as there is safety in familiarity? Don't dismiss it. Everything that stirs you can tantalize you." A bit of betrayal came off her. He could have her crying, and fainting, and even dying a bit, but betrayal was too strong a taste for him, so early.

He lifted her easily into his lap, to place her legs across it, side saddle. This was new also. Ansa had never needed this, much, so he had never given it, much. He buried his nose in her hair and sucked at her scent which was warmed by her distress. A soft inhale. "Are you cross with me?" he asked, curious as he patted her back. He also kissed her shoulder. "Can't you see this kind of thing is delicious, Ophelia?" he said, no apology there, but rather advice. It was better she saw it for what it was, so that she could start enjoying it. "Speaking of delicious." he added as he lifted her just as the door opened. The rooster. The bow was cold, but if she'd learned anything about Nathan yet, it was that he was inwardly reprimanding himself rather than expressing any animosity toward her.

"It seems the desserts are ready." Kvell said and walked with her on his arms out the door. Kvell was strong, and he could bring her along without any effort. It so happened that she was the perfect size for an accessory for him. If she thought about it, as he rocked her subtly on their way to the kitchen, she might be able to discover that he had grown up against Ansa, that his body had formed to accommodate hers. "There are other things that we could enjoy, culinarily, but that's at least a third day kind of treat." he said as he left a puff of that breath billow against her ear, so she would look at him, if she wasn't already. "But you'd have a lacking thirty days if you went without." he continued.

"You are a villain." Nathan said, turning the mask back to look at the Sir and the sister.

Kvell leaned in closer still, to her to whisper as they bent their trajectory to pass through the opened kitchen doors. "I am." he confessed as he placed her on an isle. It was not meant for anything but preparing food, so it was clean steel. They had made ice-creams and pastries. Nathan especially insisted on one of three milkshakes, built tall with cream, candy crushings, and fruit. Kvell looked betrayed now, when the butler slid one of the glasses, fingers on the foot, toward the sitting Ophelia. The straw was big, sticking out of the fluffy head of the liquid pleasure, and so it could be taken with some kind of autonomy. Kvell, of course, liked the tray of small things, that he had placed her close to. He lifted a minuscule, full cake to her lips, and smiled as though seeing it with her was enough. There was a trick he liked to play, switching his thumb in the place of the fingers presenting the morsel, that her lips would close around the lonely digit instead. Then he would eat the sweetness himself, face close to hers, before she could let go with her teeth or tongue or lips or all. Of course he would introduce her to the trick, if she chose to open her lips for him.

"Is there something missing on this table that you would rather have, Ophelia?" he asked. "We can have it by tonight if it's common, and by tomorrow if it's rare." He had an urge to kiss her then, the double thicknesses that had told him to stop, and tried to barter for him to stop with their blood relation. He also had a very hard and insistent inclination to press her down, pretty, familiar face first into a tart and climb up on the table with her, so he could take something more from her, skewer her on him, while digging his fingers into her new, irate writings until her face was creamy and her dress was bloody and her belly was swimming. "You can have almost anything, you know."

He would tell her what he knew of the things they'd made as he fed them to her, and how he couldn't stand the disappointment of macrons, how their color and shape over-sold their taste. He said that she was not the same. She surprised him, he said, with the way she tasted. It was very true. Ansa, of the same shell and the same potential, had diverged completely. In a way Kvell was being unfaithful to Ansa's memory with this, and it hurt him, but it also gave him life in way he'd not discovered until today. After some tenderness, lined in sugars and mint leaves, he would brush her side and watch the garden of crimson blossom, if it had not grown already, on the dress. It should make her twitch, at least.

"Come. You're too distracting. That´s punishable." jest, probably. "I should tend to that, so that it heals. There are some miracles in this house, you'll see, and they aren't all going to be played out between the ends of my fingers and the endings of your nerves." She could protest, but even the rooster would cluck in Kvell's favor. There was a bath, deeper in the house, with a window overlooking the garden, that was bluer now, with evening nearing. The water would be kind to her, and Kvell would sit with her, and wear a glove to fuss over the contract as it was drowned in the good, spiked liquid.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 27, 2016, 05:21:23 am
Ophelia listened to him speak the contract he’d etched on her flesh and thought she might wilt away. “Paper would have been sufficient, I think, Sir.” She mumbled, some heavy and overwhelming exhaustion flowing over her in a powerful wave. Her body, it seemed, had decided its trial was over and left her deeply tired as it swept up the adrenaline it had seeded in her veins. It was bothersome that he made their contract sound so neat. Pretty, even. She would swear otherwise by the aching bruises that were already competing with the blue ink.

Kvell appealed to their familial relation and she wondered if he expected her to feel something for it. She’d use a similar plea and found no sympathy. If this was how he had treated Ansa she had no desire to be his sister. “You don’t even know me. I was never part of this family until you needed a replacement face.” She sighed. If the comment was dry, the frightened hunch of her shoulders was enough to provide sincerity.

He seemed to think she should have liked what he’d done, on some level. It confused her, because nothing of that restrained and uninvited hurt had been pleasant. Exposed to people she didn’t know and marked by a man who she had not though owned her. One hand traveled down to the throbbing ribs. But he did own her. For thirty days. She had agreed to that, at some point. Or, it seemed like it. She really wasn’t sure. “Novelty like that is hurtful. It was unexpected.” A little edge of chastisement in her voice. The Sisters had worn off on her. “There are sweeter ways to love a sister.” She said. Ophelia didn’t know that from any experience, of course. But she was quite sure this was not the norm of siblings behind closed doors.

Kvell, now more like her tea room Kvell, scooped her into her lap more gently than she would have supposed he could. She stiffened, suspicious, but was too tired to make much of protesting. His face in her long hair seemed soft enough. Ophelia felt herself relax into his arms and wasn’t sure it was because she wanted the comfort or was simply too exhausted to scramble away. “Of course I’m cross with you.” She complained, and sounded more like Ansa than she could possibly have realized.

Ophelia was inclined to remind him, again, that he hadn’t asked her if she could find his behavior enjoyable before the fact when the door opened. Nathan the rooster. The big dark eyes were on the butler curiously. He seemed sympathetic. Some of the other staff did too, for that matter. But he wouldn’t move to help her. He’d proven that multiple times now. She wondered if Kvell had broken the man down also. Perhaps Nathan would find that look similar to disappointment, but it was not. Ophelia simply could not fathom Oleander Manor. The whole concept seemed twisted and surreal.

Kvell had stood, taking her with him, and had he not been responsible for her injuries she might have felt like she was being rescued by a prince. Desserts, he said. It was a childish response, but she perked up just a little. Blame it on the paucity of sweets at the orphanage. He was saying things she didn’t quite catch the meaning of, poor innocent, but the promise of treats had her watching him with a bit less sour. Maybe Kvell wasn’t terribly unfair, then. Just raving mad.

Nathan called his master a villain. Openly. And Kvell agreed. Openly. Ophelia blinked at both men. Little rabbit. How Ansa would have smacked her silly for such stupidity. She was too sweet. Too soft. Too unblemished. Ansa had been an unapologetic brat. She’d known every turn and look to goad her brother on. The woman had gone looking for agony like her life depended on it. Whether the brother had understood that about her or not was hard to say. He had indulged her, if nothing else.

Ophelia was won over too easily. It was a deep fault that she was so forgiving, or so gluttonous. The milkshake was enough to elicit a gasp. She hadn’t ever seen anything so pretty. She reached for it with both hands, like she’d been given some sort of treasure, and sighed with unabashed pleasure at the taste. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted.” She said to both men. “Thank you.” Again to both, because she wasn’t sure who she should thank.

Kvell was bringing small cakes to her lips, to distract her from the ice cream, and she went to take them from his fingers without much second thought. Breakfast had trained her for this and weariness excused her from questioning it. Besides, it all smelled of sugars and creams and she was beside herself over it. When he gave her his thumb in lieu of the baked morsel she expelled it quickly. The look she gave him was wounded, but it was the sort of face one made when in disbelief. Whether disbelief was more egregious than betrayal must depend on the mood, but it somehow lightened the gravity of her earlier mood. She was simply a soft thing, prone to hurts. A dangerous suggestion, that Kvell ought not feel too guilty. If he had a concept of such a feeling at all.

The brother opened the window for demands and Ophelia wasn’t sure what to do with it. She gaped at him, briefly. “Sir, I wouldn’t know what to ask for. I’ve only ever had very modest desserts at the Home.” She brought a hand to cover her mouth and blushed as if that made her uncultured. “This is already more than I would have dreamt, as a small girl.” The desserts, not this place and this man. Or did it matter, really? Was there a difference?

He seemed to take it upon himself to educate her, dumb girl to her sweets, and she tried everything as a dutiful student. Ophelia was pleased enough that she only winced a little when this movement or that pained her side. She hadn’t forgotten the frightening ministrations but they had been sweetened with this sugar. He’d said something of appreciating novelty. Ophelia wondered if it was sin to accept that kind of thinking if she could be pampered after. She glanced at Nathan and looked guilty. If there was anyone in that room to judge her for such a whim it was the rooster, she was sure.

When Kvell touched the place he’d inked, where there was a bit of her red and his blue smearing through the soft satin dress, she was in the middle of something new and spongy and thick with honey. The surprise and the taste had a peculiar effect and a tiny sound, somewhere between a moan and mewl, escaped her pretty cream-covered lips. It was something to be ashamed of, and her telling porcelain skin wore it well.

She did not protest when he took her from the room.

Ophelia did make the appropriate efforts to dissuade him from unclothing her, though, that sort of modesty keeping hold where other inhibitions might have faltered just so. It was out of necessity more than any real belief she could prevent him. He had, quite obviously, done worse in this one day. The bath made her unladylike exposure worth it and she really did whimper and sigh then, as if for a lover. If pain could be exquisite, she was sure it was only because the aftermath was satisfying. She sank into the bath as if all her limbs had come undone. There was that reminder of how tired she was, again. Rosy gold waves snaked out like a dark fire halo as they flailed adrift on the bath water.

She didn’t look at him, absorbing the garden view instead. “Will you tell me about my sister?” she asked against the shivering ripples. Ophelia leaned her head back against the cool tub. “Were you cruel to her, also? Or is this punishment for having her face?” she asked. The tired gaze remained on the fading landscape beyond. Reds and blues, from the low sun and the long shadows. Like her blood and the ink, which drifted lazy watercolors from her side. “Did she love you?” Her ribs ached. It hurt some to breathe, even. “Am I supposed to?” 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on June 28, 2016, 12:47:02 am
Surely paper would have been. There was laughter in him for her, then, but he wouldn't let it escape. Even Kvell's cruelty had limits. The dagger that followed though, hurt him slightly. It was only fair. He could not be quiet when she absoluted about alternative ways to show affection to a sibling. "No, there is not, Ophelia." Not a hard voice, because why would such a deep truth need the cementing? Surely, he would not practice this love if he did not believe in it. His grin in the wake of her perfect channeling of Ansa's smaller wraths chased away the stiffness of pious. He noticed her hopeful gaze toward Nathan and wondered quickly if that should be a problem. The butler had known and seen Ansa's spirit lacing with the Sir's own inclinations. It had not been such a foreign symbiosis to the head of help. It seemed the rooster did not apply this understanding to Ophelia.

She did not hold on to her mood, or let it become vengeance. The salt was easily softened with powdered sugars and exquisite food dyes. When Nathan looked, from not too far away, he saw a very gentle expression to Kvell, feeding their guest with eager, like some alchemist with a new element, trying all previous concoctions with it, and loving the results. The last remaining master of the mining dynasty laughed loud at her display after having tasted his thumb, and had to catch his own mouth with the hand that wasn't providing her with honeyed surprises. It was unlike Kvell to be engaged in this way. Lady Ansa had pulled at another part of him. If she had been a fire, then this forgotten sister was a lure, rather, something to call for attention with its inside rather than explosive reactions.

Kvell thoroughly went about spending all the major flavors that had been laid out for her. She was a good thing to spoil. He learned all too quickly this was one of her weaknesses, and he thought it was fitting. What a pretty vice to have. Ansa had also approved of candies, but she had not been this smitten. He thought of other ways to pamper her as he watched her lick her lips and have more. "Then you will have to learn to dream more formidable dreams." he encouraged, when she underlined her denied upbringing. His eyes spread in the whites, lashes flexing like crucial feathers clamoring for high wind when she breathed a lush sound through a morsel when he graced their contract. If either of them had looked at Nathan, they would have seen a very worried bird. Both men had been drawn by that instance.

Of course he'd not have her protests, undressing her. Now she lay like the Bard's Ophelia, lovely in the water. Her little life clouds gave a tint to the depths, as though the gilded tub wasn't lending enough quality to the liquid. He felt as though he was painting, playing with her like this. of course the firm sponge that petted her favored the outlines of the ink. He winched when she spoke of Ansa, while she looked exactly like her, and acted nothing like her. Ophelia had let him forget, for a little while. He squeezed some crimson and clear over her heart before scrubbing her shoulder. "Ansa was like a star. Not like one from the bed-time song, where it twinkles, but like something that has solar storms, and affect the world." he smiled at the memories, on his knees on the tile, sleeve rolled as high as it would. "Or perhaps just the aura of a star, the parts with the ripples, that you imagine could whip at you." He kissed her hair, as though to say 'you are not that'. "She almost consumed me. And she would have eaten you."

He smirked, and it was a black crescent, projected by black stories. Fond though. "I was cruel to her. And she answered in kind." The sponge on her cheekbones, and over her chin. The medicine in the bath should do well to mend her. "But of course, we were of different addictions, so it became an exchange. Do you know?" he thought of honey and cream and that moan she'd made. "Of course you do." Sound of an afterthought, or conviction. He drew a line with the washing tool over her sternum to her navel. He favored that particular stretch, she'd learned by now. To him, the twins were morphing now, into one story. It was a senseless and indulgent fantasy, and it traveled the sponge closer toward the apex of her legs.

He recoiled. Something stubborn and elegant being burnt. "She loved me." he answered. But if she did, why did she leave me? A sentiment and note she'd heard before, by a leather clasped carcass and candlelight. He let go of the formerly white, now pink, orb that had gotten to know her. That hand on her scalp, slowly pushing her to slide below the surface. It wasn't a threatening act, and his fingers would ride her features as she would inevitably bob up again. "You can love me if you want." he said as her hair was flat and shining against her drowned ear. "I will certainly petition for it." He parted his regal lips to suck and drink from that lobe. "But you can't love me like her, and I can't be that brother to you." after he'd swallowed and let go.

She was compliant now, tired as she was. A large day for anyone. So he would wash her a bit longer, and have her stand up. The heat always put him to sleep. He hurried to wipe her off, almost rough, so she wouldn't be cold. The towel wasn't hard and reused. It was the creamiest, thickest weave there was for that purpose. And the robe was a deeper luxury still. He held her closer, having discovered her more, as he flicked the door open with his shoe and walked them toward her room again, the rooster a quiet tail. Kvell kissed her temple sometimes, and her forehead others. She would notice the integrity of the contract, and how it did not stain the robe. Magic that money could buy.

He placed her on her bed and pulled out a gown from a drawer. "What was it like in the orphanage?" he'd ask. "Must have been lonely." Possessive to a fault, he would still free her of the after-bath attire, and clothe her in a well-loved, white bell. It would give him time to admire the contract, still impossibly vivid because of the swelling. "You're not an orphan anymore, whether you will stay or not, in thirty days." And it was a sincerity, that was joined by another real thing when he sat himself down by the bedboard, and one of the rings chimed to remind her of what kind of brother her was. It was unfortunate for the laid-bare Lord Oleander, that the shadows in the room that was always day and always night crossed his beauty just so the whites of his eyes were black, and the finery of his symmetry were trenches. Hadn't he been a hungry monster, chaining her here with no regard that she might disapprove of eternal marks? "Do you think you'll love me though, if I try my hardest to make you happy?"

It was better, this stark shade and telling illumination, to know his duality. And dancing in those sockets where some kindness had been, a story of his greed, and a reminder she did not know this spoiled person. Would her answer even matter? He would pretend it did, surely. "Perhaps you'll want me to stay, tonight? Your choice. I imagine it will be better than being alone." A little hope, in those hollows, maybe. What is a carnivore most hopeful for?

A rooster, then, with slick hair. Nathan abused their privacy, stepped right into it. "Lady Ophelia. You could go to bed now. There are things to do tomorrow." He was going to pretend he'd not heard the conversation and held up the jacket Kvell had left here, lifetimes ago. "I'm sure you would like to prepare for it, too, Sir." And Sir did. But he was upset with the blatant injection of self into a delicate moment. Kvell remained sitting on the bed, and waited for her response. He was out of the worst shadows, so she could see him sulking. He would leave with quick steps, as do the rejected, upon her no, and triumphantly usher the protesting rooster out, if she said he should stay.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on June 28, 2016, 06:59:57 pm
She was captured a bit by the way he painted Ansa. There are books written about women like that. The untamable souls that wreak havoc and beauty on everything around them until they burn themselves out. Ophelia wanted to ask what had burnt Ansa out, but there was a little twinge in her gut that said she could very well have guess. Unnatural and before her time. The look on Kvell’s face said Ansa’s departure had come like a personal affront. Ophelia decided to hold the question.

The way he spoke made her shiver, because it was the most sincerity she thought she’d had from him. And it was dark and bladed but unmistakably affectionate. Would she be made to learn those same vices? To shoulder that kind of love that made bones creak? Ophelia let him bathe her without protest, her expressions changing when it hurt but otherwise lulling in the swirl of his story. The lashes fluttered, something flighty and nervous with the travel of his sponge, but she felt saved by his small dismay. More insult and injury. She thought to apologize. “Yes. Of course she loved you. It sounds like you were both very close.” She agreed with him to amend.

He baptized her in the bath and she pretended it was forgiveness. There was nothing to be proud of in making the grieving question the dead. There was a new spike with his face near and then a touch that might have made blush with shame if she weren’t already flushed from the warm water. Tiny yelp, but she stayed with his cadence. “I don’t know if I can love you.” She was honest. “You scare me, a little bit.” Bistre eyes searched a white face. “You’re my brother because that’s what I was told. I don’t know it for myself yet, I think.” She pulled her knees up in the tub, small rosy islands jutting up from the water and spidering with a rush of blood toward the cool air.

She didn’t want him to love her like he’d loved Ansa. Ophelia wasn’t a star. She was not nearly so brilliant or volatile. “I can try.” To love you. To know you as my brother. “But I’m me. Ophelia.” Ansa’s face but not her soul. “It’s okay if I don’t feel like a sister to you, either.” She offered. Maybe he was kinder to those he didn’t share lineage with. Maybe he was worse.

There was some quiet when he finished bathing her and the sloshing water played a lullaby that had her heavy-lidded by the time he made her stand. She blinked spots from her eyes when she was on her feet, teetering briefly from the fatigue and the steam. He was purposeful when he dried her and it made her squirm a bit when the movements were rough on her aching body, despite the lush towel and the good the bath had done.

Ophelia was appreciative though, when he shrouded her in the thick robe and made to carry her off. She was sure she was too tired to trudge her way back to the room, which seemed miles off in her sleepy head. She leaned against him and did her best to stay awake when his heartbeat picked up the lullaby the bathwater had sang. A quiet and sturdy rhythm that appealed to her in the strange upturn of her new existence. It was odd that his kisses weren’t a bother, this man she barely knew, but she didn’t dwell on it for long.

He asked her about the Home when she’d been settled on the bed. “No, it wasn’t lonely. The Sisters that cared for us are like family. Adoptions were rare so I grew up with the same faces and they all became a bit like family too.” She smiled. “They keep you busy in places like that, too. When I was very little I disliked the work but it was helpful when I got older and needed the distraction.” No matter how kind it was, she’d have been lying if she said that she hadn’t spent some years wondering why she’d been left behind. “I like to think I was raised well. I still say my prayers, even when the Sisters aren’t there to scold me.” She actually giggled then, the first real happiness she’d given to Oleander Manor that wasn’t sugar-spun.

He dressed her for sleep. Not an orphan anymore. Ophelia didn’t tell him she hadn’t felt like an orphan for some years now. Coming of age was more significant for the children of the Home than many others, because it meant some acknowledged independence that shed their “unwanted” status. However, legality never did fill the gaps left for family. She wasn’t about to try and say it was the case.

Instead, her expression grew serious again and she stared at the lines of his face intently. She wondered if he was aware that he had, to some degree, made her a prisoner and it was a bit preposterous to suggest he had selfless intentions of making her happy. At the same time, she hadn’t found it in herself to hate him. It might have been worse that he seemed to toe the line of awful and kind. “I don’t know.” She said, answer unchanged from the bath.

Little lamb in white, with her wolf offering comfort. Ophelia wasn’t sure that she was so desperate. Nathan came to some rescue. She tried to be polite. “I’m really very tired. I think I’ll be fine on my own, thank you. If you have things to prepare for tomorrow, you should go.” As forceful a ‘no’ as she could muster for the man that had strapped her down when he’d wanted. Perhaps she should have thought harder on what it was to encourage him to prepare. She snuggled down beneath the plush covers on the bed, like she needed the protection.

“If you’re worried I’ll run off you can always lock the door. Or make Mr. Rooster stand guard.” She suggested. Dangerous, maybe, to invite the butler’s presence while she slept when the master had been rejected. But Nathan hadn’t bruised her body with needles and ink. 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 01, 2016, 12:09:19 am
He had liked the way she tried to soothe his heartbreak. Surely Ophelia speaking was as close to Ansa communicating he would ever come, again. In the fumes, laden with benign drugs and her scent, his loving madness allowed itself to spread for a while. This was the lost sister. Then, when not a minute had passed, she was not Ansa- she was, in fact, Ophelia, scared of him, but benevolent, willing to try. He liked both those things. Ansa had not been frightened. He'd driven her mad before he'd made her scared. So he had to remember that this body was not a shell for Ansa, once more. He felt grateful, not frustrated this time, and carried her with that, parcel of lavish thread count as she'd become.

She giggled. He was surprised. He thought fleetingly at the life she recanted, and wondered without guilt in his own active part in it. He would tell her, inside the period she was here. Nathan would be thankful for that friction. No doubt noble, caring Nathan would hope such betrayal would pivot benevolent Ophelia away from the manor. Kvell wouldn't have that. "Prayers." he whispered after she'd put the word between them. He was interested in this. A religious home for children. How well they'd prepared this girl for him.

But her gifts stopped there, for today. No more moaning into pastries, no more pretty steeling for a needle. She did not want to sleep near him, or stay up all night, shackled, explaining how much trouble he was in for making her bleed, like the woman who had lived here before her. Kvell blamed Nathan, and thought she'd taken a right she had no claim to. Denied, two times. It was an effort for the young lord, who had grown up ravishing and spoiled, to leave her be. But he'd offered, and she'd declined. He stood from the bed with hard legs, fixing his shirt that had become all the stages of ease, with creases throughout the sleeves, buttoned down thrice. "Roosters aren't good for your sleep." he said as the butler took no offense while sliding the jacket onto his extended arms. "The lock, however, is needed." He took the handle of the door and looked at her, clean of all the romantic fatigue they'd built together. "The ghosts are always fresh here, and tomorrow is a much better time to try and escape." And the implications filled the room with focus on gothic details before he closed it.

In the morning, he would wait for her in the room with the traditional cups and pots. They had built a small, round table high. Every tier on the cake-stand hosted well made, perfect foods. She wouldn't know, but the availability of sandwiches was severely diminished in the spread, and the occurrence of sweeter fare had been multiplied. All kinds of teas at the ready, if she had a preference outside of the lower-rack grocery bought packets she'd had at the orphanage. He would caress the air in the direction of steaming spouts as he explained flavors to her, after Nathan had brought her. The staff would still wear masks, and those that showed mouths would set them tight.

"Did you dream well? You look quite good." he offered. "You said you wanted high tea." he reminded, standing there fully dressed, in blacks and deepest blues, his hair a bit playful ontop. His shoes were lower, almost sporty despite their polished finish. "This is a pleasant way to take it." And he'd even let Nathan point out a good dress for the occasion. A bonnet, also. Of course, without the option of shoes, herself, there'd always be the added exposure that such attire was meant to hinder. He wouldn't sit until he'd pushed her chair in for her, and remained close, even this meal, to feed her with the treasures that had been baked to impress, now that he knew she had an addicted tongue, and provide her with expertly poured tea. He made sure not to burn her.

"Ansa did not have a penchant for this room, but she didn't hate it." She would rather hate when he held the scalding spoons to her, or pinched her with tongs for sugar. Of course, all rooms, all themes, could be made into his kind of playroom. He frowned with some mirth when there was jam on the corner of her mouth, and quickly wiped it with the thumb she'd tasted yesterday. He took some tea himself. There was no indication as to whether he loathed or appreciated the drink. He'd taken tea enough times. While it wasn't an enemy to him, he didn't hold a penchant for it, either. Today might be more exiting for him, simply because it was the first for her.

"Did you say your prayers?" he asked, and made sure it was when she had something in her mouth. The voice was cheeky, but not doubting. He took a cherry something for himself, and chewed with bulged cheek. He wasn't entirely familiar with what kind of schedule was considered correct for knees and clasped hands. The lips and teeth were clean when he opened them again. "I was made to pretend at pious for a period, but mother tired of that dress-up." or was it because he'd pull her hair for attention when she tried to lower her head and ask for-- what would the woman who owned so much want? He was sure the theological conversations were about him, and that he be better at this or that. "But I can't remember much of the teachings. What do you pray for?" There was no rooster allowed in the room to make sure she knew exactly how dangerous that question was.

If she moved her bare feet about underneath the table, she would soon discover a box. If she looked underneath the cloth, he wouldn't stop her, and there would be a neatly wrapped present for her. He would pull it out and shake it very lightly. Pink, with a black bow. No sweets, he'd say with his condolences, but a very exquisite pair. She could have her suspicions, of a box this size, and the clue being that there was two of something inside. "It's something you haven't had since you got here." he continued. "I would like if we opened it together in the garden." Kvell was enjoying that possibility very much, visibly. "You can feel the grass with your feet." He held the present out, so she could examine it, but not open.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 02, 2016, 05:20:42 pm
Ophelia didn’t mind ghosts, and fell asleep quickly despite the long shadows and the gothic deep of the room without its soft lighting. It was curious how it still glowed with effect, despite being without windows. At the Home, the children had often told stories about ghosts in the empty rooms. When they had gone to mass, the faces carved at the Stations of the Cross had looked sternly over the orphans and convinced them not to make light of the spirits. Ophelia was as kindred to the Home’s ghosts as she was to the other children.

She wondered if Nathan stood watch outside her bedroom or if he went to some rooster room after she closed her eyes. She wondered where Kvell retreated to. Another windowless suite or a glass and gilded cage, overlooking the labyrinth. She drifted into deep and hazy dreams of sweetness and the thick ache of needles on her skin.

When she woke up, the door was cracked just so and a package was wedged for her to find. Freshly steamed clothes wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. Carefully done and left without a note, like everything in this house it was evident what her role was by quiet presentation. To tell her to put the thing on would have almost seemed garish against the deft way Sir Kvell ran his manor. She didn’t know it had been Nathan that had been allowed to pick the dress for the day.

She pulled the package inside and closed the door. Not more than thirty seconds later, there was a click to indicate the lock had been put back in place. She put the package on her bed and bent to pray for strength on this day. Strength against the fear and temptation, offered in equal measure in this place. She prayed for peace and compassion.

Ophelia readied herself in the small washroom, outfitted with a toilet, sink, and mirror but no bath. She combed out her long hair in front of Ansa’s vanity and let her gaze rove the pretty glass bottles collected there. In some curious act of boldness, she reached for a small red vial with curves that swept upward like a curled flame and wore a crown of gold filigree. Two fingers applied the softly spiced scent from inside along the flutter of her pulse in her slim throat and wrists.

The dress she had been provided was some bastardized Victorian thing, distinctly modern in cut despite the rich old fabrics. Though it was still warm from being cleaned, it was another article of Ansa’s, she was sure. The fabric was softer at the elbows and lightly worn at the hem. She pulled it on and was again struck by the perfection of fit. She had been tailored for Ansa, perhaps. A sky blue velvet bell of a skirt with soft chiffon ruffling along her thighs and offering some modicum of modesty where the pointed lack of undergarments offered none. A center panel of cream brocade, winking with floral patterns in gold thread, concealed fine corset bones that pressed her chest upward so the soft rounds were cupped and trimmed in pleated satin ruffle. The sleeves were long and belled, some mimic of the full skirt, and fell so that her slim fingers barely passed their hem.

She stared at herself in the mirror. Another doll-like look, subtly provocative in the twenty-first century interpretation. A daringly low back, brushing the small dimples at the base of her spine. From the right angle, the text Kvell had laid on her milky skin peeked from the side of the dress as they wrapped back along her ribs. This dress, like the small slip from yesterday, fell no further than the middle of her thigh.

Ophelia put on the bonnet, trimmed in the blue velvet of her dress, and tied the bow low. A blue ribbon in Ansa’s wardrobe worked to capture her long blush hair in a low ponytail over her shoulder. How very different from the jeans and ill-fitted blouses she’d worn most days at the Home. She felt transported into some bizarre other age, staring at her reflection. A breath and then she went back to try the door. It was still locked.

She was, more or less, content to wait. At Ansa’s desk she found the journal again.

Kvell drives me mad when he makes those faces and I know I ought to stop, but it’s some kind of addiction. I want to know how furious he can get. Sometimes I dream that I won’t survive him and that’s the most peace I’ve ever known. All the shadows and all the murmuring evaporates. It’s just Kvell and the worst things I can imagine. It makes me want to laugh and cry and I really could just die. Someday I hope I’ll die.

Mom and Dad are two days late coming back from their trip. Their flight left on time, and I’m sure there’s something wrong. Kvell and I should really check the news, but I asked him to get rid of all the televisions because I hate the way they sound. Nathan knows something, I think. He keeps looking for a moment to tell us but we haven’t given him one. I wonder if we can just pretend nothing is wrong. I think that’s easier than pretending to care. Kvell might be upset for real. I can’t be, though. Kvell is the only thing that matters anymore. Mom and Dad are miserable and hurt my head. I hate the way they look at me, like they made the wrong decision. I think I’d be okay with never seeing them make those faces again.


There was a short rap on the door, smart, and the door latch clicked. Ophelia scrambled to shut the journal and went to meet Nathan. She didn’t say much, politely engaging in morning pleasantries without looking the rooster in the eye. Perhaps, she was worried he’d know that she had been reading Ansa’s journal. Perhaps, she felt he might judge her for how little she was protesting this strange dollhouse game.

Ophelia, in her infinitely simple manner, was eagerly appreciative when she was lead to the tea room and understood what was presented there. “I did sleep well, thank you. This is beautiful, Sir,” she said, polite and bubbly. She pattered, barefoot, over the plush carpet to take her seat.

“It would be hard to hate a place like this, I think.” Ophelia suggested, grateful for the soft sun on her face from the large eastern window. She didn’t know whether Ansa’s indifference indicated Kvell’s indifference also, but she was thankful that he humored her like this. She savored the floral aroma of her tea as if she’d just been brought in from the cold. It might be hard not to enjoy the experience with her, given her earnest appreciation.

“I did say them, of course.” She answered when he asked about her prayers. “I usually say them before bed, also but…” she gave him a guilty look that was not wholly apologetic. “I was very tired. The bath was so calming and I suppose I couldn’t help myself. I will do better tonight.” Ophelia listened to him give her a little more of his childhood and had no judgment for him. The Sisters had not forced their religion on the children, but encouraged an effort to know God. Many had found Him, but just as many felt no empty that needed His filling. The Sisters had loved them no matter the choice. Maybe, if Ophelia had been raised in this manor, she would have found a religion in dark angel Ansa too.

“I pray for strength and peace. Forgiveness, too.” She answered. It would be the worst sort of thing to lie about her prayers. “I had wanted to join the convent and become a Sister. So I could continue work at the Home and help other orphans.” She told him. “I still intend to, I think, when—if I go back after my stay here.” Ophelia added. Sister Netty had insisted she see the world a bit before she make such a commitment. The nun could not have anticipated the kind of world Ophelia’s brother was offering. He might be amused that he was her alternative to a quiet and celibate life.

Ophelia took a sip of her tea, swinging her feet, which didn’t quite touch the floor, beneath the table. She was surprised to find the box with her toe and looked at Kvell for some sort of answer. His expression confirmed she ought to look and she dipped below the table to peek at the parcel. Her brow furrowed as she examined the pretty thing when he picked it up and brought it above for her to see clearer. “Something I haven’t had?” she asked carefully. There were a few things she could think of but she was reticent to ask. Everything she had been denied had seemed so purposeful.

“I would like that.” She said, accepting the box and turning it over in her hands. “The garden looks pretty.” She said. She’d hadn’t been outside in several days now, too. Ophelia set the box aside obediently and returned to nursing her tea. She looked at the sweets on the little circular riser in the center of the table and then at Kvell for permission. She hadn’t been allowed to handle food with her own hands in this house, yet.     
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 03, 2016, 11:47:41 pm
When she moved herself in, on her feet with no shoes, he understood her hair would become a problem, behind the hat, where it tried to hide against her back. Its absence, ruined now and then with elegant whips of rose to give her small wings, amplified its beautiful insult. Ansa the first had come expectant, waiting to explore the possibilities to fan his embers into a firestorm. He was starved for that sort of thing now, so this Ansa was walking into one already blazing, but without knowledge of it, or a want for it. Such a different kind of torture for him, denying himself to savor her. He'd seen other ingredients in Nathan's warning stares, yesterday. Surprise, probably at Kvell's restraint, and worry, for when that still ocean would rise to drown Ophelia. Waiting for her to make it to the table had Kvell thinking of when she tripped doing the same on their morning in the dance hall. He wished it would happen again but it didn't. He devised a few machinations to target her ankles when she said her sleep had been good.

There was no trail of hurt when she spoke. She was cautious, though the amount was not enough to suggest the writings he'd performed on her. He liked this kind of reset, it gave him opportunity to do more. It was good also, that she did not entirely trust to denial. That would have been devastatingly boring. He smiled in a way he'd been taught, when she would not hate this room as their sister had. The act felt a bit more genuine, in front of her. What she said on her prayers, though, drew him in completely. "What kind of forgiveness can a girl like you possibly be wanting for?" he demanded, struck curious. There was a a little outward arch of his fingers and a suggested shrug in the way the shoulders of his jacket almost moved when she mentioned her possible exit of the manor. It would be a bit of a loss to the sisters if Ophelia did not return. He had ways of filling her vacancy there. He suspected the place would be rather flush for sending her here, either way. He'd just not tended to it yet.

Her reaction to the box was better than he had hoped. Better than he could take, almost. She went about sealing another hardship for herself without knowing it, though her choice in the matter was questionable even to the lord. After all, why should she think to ask what was in the garden when he hadn't steered the conversation to suggest there was anything of note? Kvell leaned back, to see her with the gift, and then place it away. It was hard not to be reminded of the doll aesthetic, then. He was smitten, today also. While he let the silence go on, enjoying her want for the sweets while knowing he'd enjoy granting them to her, too, he came to remember Ansa hadn't much liked it when he gave her things. Or if she did she hid it.

"You hide nothing." he said to himself, for her to hear before he lifted the first baked and carefully assembled thing, placed it between two knuckles, and brought it to her. It was a bit like kissing a king's rings when she took it. He wasn't so keen on dictating the pace of this breakfast, and payed attention to her tells to know what to feed her next. If she got excited and pointed, he would allow that too. The chefs and bakers had been told to sprinkle powdered vitamins and use good oils, lacing the bites with nutrition so, in theory, she could exist on this diet if this was the only fare he could see her take. Doll's food are to be pleasing to the eye, and match the mouth of the doll.

He did his trick again, with the thumb, to see what other delights it might elicit, and told her she ate well. If she was the still, halted kind of surprised, he'd pet her tongue tip first, and see if he could massage it deeper in. He would even hold her gaze with his black orbs. It was a way to create a bond to some pets. He'd like the implications if she'd let him, but the tongue and mouth are reflexive things.

Her cup would never be empty, and he would also fill himself with cake. In good company, one is more likely to eat, after all. If either of them had seen the butler's face, and not the beak, they would have known he was pleased with the scene.

"There, sugar fiend." he said and leaned over his own hand, siren-calling her in with the last sweetness she'd be allow to sample. He'd fast place a big kiss on the rim of her hat before she could retract. "That's all we'll have for now." And he stood, placing the box in one arm, and offered her the other, after he'd helped her with the chair. "A walk to soothe the blood, with all that honey runny through it now, and then a big reveal." he shook the box again. It was, however, put into a satchel perfectly its size, by a horse in a frock, so he could wear it instead of carrying it.

Kvell was in a candid, good mood. It was not as secretive as yesterday. If she wanted she could think it was foreboding, or that she was finally seeing the real son of the old family. Outside, after a quick turn back to the dancing hall and out the doors onto the balustrade and down the steps, was blissful. The weather would allow for almost anything. His coat, her dress, or much lighter covering. "The grass shouldn't have any native pebbles or rocks." he said as they traveled the smooth stone path along the house. It was no whim that kept her without footwear, Oleander was made to house that fashion. "I'll show you."

And he did, turning them abruptly outward. The blades would yield to her soles the way the mats of her childhood in the home had not. Riches of gold could become nature's riches. His hand would be on her naked back, through her dancing hair, fingers counting the stacked skeletal ridges, as though this pass-time was the reason for the back-bare design. He'd even connect those low dimples with a line with his finger, but never dip lower than the cut of the fabric. A low hum, as his heart lightened, the satchel bouncing on his other side. He took her by the bushes, their gatherings unnatural, but symmetric to the tamed world created to go along with the mixture of timeless and new that was this place. He let her have the berries if she wanted, and helped her pluck some fat heads off their stems, if she looked at them long. He'd place those blooms in the ribbon of her present, even.

And then, if she was distracted, even if she was not, he'd have them by the entrance of the big labyrinth. He stopped to call her attention to this fact, and she saw that the grass did not continue into the green a blue speckled world of corridors, since its floor, too, was made out rose vines, crowded with thorns. "Oh, don't worry your lovely feet." he assured her, and would pull her off the ground. "There is a perfect place inside to open your gift."

And then she would discover he was a gentle, hasty dancer to a louder hum, the same that he'd been hinting throughout the walk. He would enter the labyrinth, spinning her and sometimes tossing her, but never letting her touch the spikes that couldn't best his shoes. It could be whimsical, and invite the kind of laughter that goes beyond your control, that becomes unflattering and rises from your stomach, or it could be worrisome, moving with his elegance in a dizzying world, being spun to disorient. Or it could be both those things, the former first, and the latter finally, when inside was just that, another place completely. Eventually, there would be a black rock scene, polished, with a statue and a sharp prop in the middle. He set her down on the beginning of the scene.

Her likeness, shorter hair crashing up, forever in that motion, in stone. A spear, of some kind, shooting up from the scene floor to enter through her mid back, and sprout again through the front of her throat. Naked, in flight. Ophelia could have time to examine or ask about it. It was Ansa, of course. And then, with a voice that was harder than the stone, he'd demand Ophelia dress her. It would be clear that the exposed back of her dress was not for his petting, but to work around the design of this stone twin. He would tug at her kindness at first, it would sound less than convincing, that he wanted modesty for the carved sister, and then he would simply demand. He assured her she would have something to put on in the box.

After he'd enjoyed whatever display Ophelia offered, which would inevitably leave her naked herself, he would let her open the box. A pair of ballet shoes, with heels running along the sole, same length, that would force her to simply walk on her toes or not at all. Laid out on a bed of lace. He would lift that lace, and let her know it was two strips of it. After he'd helped her on with the shoes, she would like to wear something, wouldn't she, he insisted, he'd proceed to bind her wrists behind her back with the first strip, and then blindfold her with the other.

The game was simple as it was horrible.

"And now, sister dear, you will find your way out of this place." With it's cutting floor and its stabbing walls. "and you can call on me for guidance." A gentle lift, on impossible shoes she'd never learned, and she would be off the safety of the stage, heels and toes wedged into the thorny path. How far in, she couldn't know. He would walk with her, of course, and talk to her sometimes, but never with directions. It was to hear her sweet voice call for him, partially, to see if she'd develop something toward him out of it, but also to see her scratched up and fall. The thorns produced a natural disinfectant, which had been his demand, but also left a rather humming sting, also.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 04, 2016, 07:26:50 am
Ophelia sucked in her lower lip and it was a deeper pink when she set it free. “No human is perfect.” She said reasonably. “I think there are things here that might spoil me and I suppose…” she trailed off and, for a moment, traced her fingers across her side where her ribs still ached and had turned into a flowering bouquet of mottled yellow and blue. “Punishment comes to those who have sinned, so,” Ophelia tapped her palms against her cheeks and breathed quick. Best to move on from that.

She did not linger on the box for long and it was out of some mistrust for the things Kvell might count as gifts. The items inside had sounded like they had carried at least some substantial body and that was worrisome. Beyond whatever growing hand-shy sensibilities she might have, Ophelia had found the desserts at Oleander Manor without flaw. The spread of sweets available now seemed no less wonderful. She shrugged at him as he brought a small tart toward her, balanced on her knuckles. “I don’t think I have very much to hide.” She said. She had not considered fully what she might have to hide from him, because she had not conceived entirely what he might like left bare.

Ophelia took the tart with an efficient obedience that said she’d found their rhythm and was willing to walk it for these pleasures. Little gasp and a wriggle in her seat. He was right to find her transparent. She gravitated toward things covered in powdered sugar or brightened with fruit. Light and puffed things. Chocolate was a garnish, not a staple, and pretty shapes seemed to matter as much as flavor. When he played his trick on her, again, he placed it well between a cream puff and some small strawberry cake. Surprise on her face, as if it were an entirely new prank, and then the same kind of betrayal in the wide brown eyes. That expression shifted to something harder to read when he did not withdraw the digit.

Soft lips parted, unintentionally inviting when she did not overtly reject him. There were so many things to teach Ophelia, which Ansa had taken to with a natural devilishness. This trick would make Ansa sing. When Kvell’s thumb did retreat, slick with the smooth of her tongue, she was silent and blushing with only a soft and rushing pant that was as much in the rise and fall of her startled chest as it was from her small mouth. She’d not broken his gaze, but let it drop then. Ophelia was considerably muted for the remainder of their tea, though she did cautiously continue to accept what morsels he chose to offer.

She didn’t speak when he assured her of the softness of the grass, nodding and allowing him to lead her along. Ophelia was a bit frightened, he would surely be able to tell, but it was different from yesterday’s contract. This was the fear of an overwhelming newness. Of not knowing what to do with herself as much as she did not know what to do with him.

Their walk outdoors seemed to put her at ease again, at least enough to smile for him and find the fruiting and flowering plants interesting. She didn’t complain over his hand on her back, though it was hard to say whether she particularly appreciated it. He had bathed her last night, after all. Last night, though, his fingers had not raised little shivers. She even seemed a small bit disappointed when they reached the mouth of the labyrinth because, though she could not have said what precisely, she understood Kvell had plans for this place. Ophelia was learning to be wary of anything Kvell had spent time to plan. Her bruised ribs reminded her of that distinctly.

Ophelia gasped when he scooped her up, curling in close when he plunged them both into the thorny maze. He might feel her heart, fluttering quick, as he whirled them in toward his special place. She giggled nervously when she understood he was practiced and held tighter to him the deeper they went into the labyrinth. She stumbled just so, when he finally put her down, dizzy from his dance. She was still giggling, high and tense, when she rubbed her eyes to push away the whirling whimsy. That laughter died quickly to open and rounded lips when she was able to digest the statue there. It was as frightening and angelic as Ansa’s leather-bound body had been. More eerie, though, because the sculpture could as easily have been her as it was her departed sister.

“Sir?” her voice sounded impossibly small in the face of his demand. She looked back at him and hoped he would laugh and tell her it was a jest, the way his fingertip on her tongue had been. His expression made it clear he was not. She felt shot with cold, some metaphorical kinship placed with the spear-shorn statue. Hesitantly, she removed her bonnet first. Her hair fell free of the ribbon as she slipped the hat off. Ophelia took careful steps toward the stone angel and tied on the cap. She looked back at Kvell and felt her heart drop when she saw that she had not misunderstood.

Ophelia resisted removing her dress and insisted that Kvell was being unreasonable to wish modesty on stone and shame for her own flesh. He was unmoved, though, and there was less play in the instruction the more she appealed. When the set of his mouth was frightening enough, she reminded herself he had seen all of her already and miserably pulled the dress down around her waist.

Fair dove that she was, her embarrassment painted itself wherever her blood burned brightest. Blossoming mosaic of flushing rose laced her chest and the slim shoulders. He would see then the way her fragile canvas had taken to his contract over the evening. It was good that he had insisted on her bath or surely the damage would have been much worse. Nonetheless, she was a watercolor of twilight hues and bloody dark wells. The sky blue ink seemed shimmering bright on that backdrop. The letters had set sharply, but her skin was an angry stretch over aching ribs. It might have been at least a small bit impressive that she had looked so chipper in the tea room.

She hid herself as best as she could beneath the long falls of her hair, struggling to maintain that tiny measure of cover for herself as she went to her tiptoes to pull the dress onto the dark stone statue. When she was done and turned back to Kvell, her eyes were bright with threatening tears. Ophelia was easy to please and easy to hurt. She hugged herself low across her hips to guard the softness at the apex of her thighs.

When he opened the box, she let out a tiny sob because the shoes were beautiful and awful and there was no real clothing there for her. “Please,” she said to him, but had no request to hang on the end of that plea. Please stop. Please let her have the dress back. Please stop building her hope up and shattering it over again. Please don’t look. If her mouth suggested some frail protest, her body offered none and she held back her tears with shivering sniffles while he helped her with the shoes.

Her cheeks were glistening wet when he had finished binding her wrists. Strangled whimpers broke her lips when he blindfolded her. Kvell issued her the rules of his game and she began to sob, teetering when he put her on her toes off the safe stage. Without her hands free to balance she stumbled forward quickly and cried out when she fell immediately to her knees. Fine flesh, quick to bleed. Her breath came quick and panicked and she did not stand, at first. A long silence above her stifled crying and yelps when she tried to move and felt the thorns dig hard into her legs.

“Please help me, Sir.” She mewled when she had finally gathered her wits and slowed her breathing. If he was good to her and helped her back onto the preposterous edge of her shoes, she would begin forward cautiously. Ophelia was lucky that there was at least a small path forward, but less so in that it dead-ended only a few yards ahead. Just as she gained a bit of confidence on her precarious and painful path, she found the thorny barrier with her chest and cheek. A sharp yelp and she toppled and stumbled back, catching herself in an unladylike splay, hunched forward. The first awkward steps of a miserable little fawn. She turned left when she had regained her balance and found more thorns, which made her cry again, but persisted and took the right to continue her way on. “Please tell me where to go.” She begged quietly, but found Kvell unwilling to give her directions for whatever other conversation he would provide. Her cheeks were wet with small upwells of blood and her tears.

Ophelia did realize he wasn’t too far from her, ever, and took quickly to asking him to call her. Painfully slowly, she would make her way toward the sound of his voice. She stumbled often and fell almost as many times. It had not taken them too long to reach Ansa’s statue. It felt as if it hours had passed since she had begun the thorny weave back out of the labyrinth. She realized, as well, that Kvell might well be leading her in hopeless circles, but she did not run into the labyrinth’s walls if she followed his voice.

She was not infinitely patient, nor infinitely able to endure the abuse of the rose thorns, though. Ansa would have charged forward and laughed when she fell. She would have gone on so that Kvell would be forced to scold and chase her and take her out of the garden before she hurt herself too deeply, only to be punished for her rashness in leather straps and steel rings. But Ansa’s wild mind had not let her grow up sweet and soft. Ophelia was only on her second day with Kvell’s leash.

“Kvell?” Ophelia breathed, sitting splayed on the thorns after another spill. She had not picked herself back up. “Kvell, may I touch you?” she asked him. “I can’t find my way. I need help.” Ophelia admitted. She was shivering, though the day was mild. She licked her lips, which had found cuts as well. Martyr in lace, begging for the hand of her Demon. 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 05, 2016, 07:17:23 am
He nodded when she said Oleander contained elements that would get wrapped up in her, inside her, and rot her a little. How adorable, with her hands framing her face, shielding against the implications she figured out herself. Would she ever know her punishments weren’t for her wrongs? It would simply be his sin not to punish someone like her. Her sin could be that, then, that she made sinners out of others. “Some people find reward in punishment, Ophelia.” And she would learn about it, if not be of it, before her trials here were over. He would find her loveliness and its role as a catalyst for his own sin to be more potent than expected, when he had to cut short his enjoyment of her obvious suspicion at the gift - good instinct – and her glowing enthusiasm for the sweets, as she accepted his caress onto her tongue, and kept her head in place for the continued attention.

A delicious thing, to be tasted by her, and he would derive what pleasure that was his from it. Nobody taught her, she’d not even taught herself, to look into his eyes when he lightly tended to her slick muscle, with her breath roiling over his nail. So innocent, though the outward petals were so purposeful. She was discovering something also, wasn’t she? Texture over flavor. Cadence over batter. The magic of other’s skin. He curled three fingers under her chin, pressing softly up, toying with the image of pulling at her jaw. It would look perfectly possessive. But he’d rather encourage this kind of exploration. He smiled a ‘go ahead’ back at her eyes, as though the thumb would give her something, if she was good.

They were friends then, or in courtship, even, when they took the smooth path, and then the grass. He indulged her and let her unfurl any way she would. This was the kind of thing the sisters wanted for her, surely. He had no trouble humoring such notions, because they elevated her to something soft, so he could apply something sharp. He felt a bit of that love however, the picnic, parasol kind, the kind that smiled without fangs, when he danced her through the amethyst and sapphire lined corridors. Her heart, his rhythm. But that love was far from Ansa. That love he could have and leave. He was not addicted to it.

She might grow to feel differently toward it too, as she gave to him such a breathtaking descent of her spirit, from where it had been, looking up on the forever Ansa, always being slain. He shivered with dark delight to see her robbed of the gentle moment, after she'd rubbed her eyes, child-like. The knot in his stomach that was sympathy, even guilt, was also welcome, it had to be. “It fits her just right.” He said about the bonnet, and closed his arms, and walked closer, but not too close. If they were too intimate, he would be participating, and she might have some strength from that. She needed to know she was being observed, and truly made to undress alone, in front of eyes. Her nakedness had been kind, so far, for good purposes. He wanted to claim it back, and season her in the reality of it.

When she could call on no leniency, she had to undress. The defeat was drawing on her, and the embarrassed burn welling up was dessert. He thought she was theatrical, so perfectly mortified. His writings were settling on her, in visceral mayhem. Would she faint if she abused her there? Laughter at her attempt to dress in the rosy strands, and her hands only drew more attention when they tried to cover what he'd almost washed, yesterday. He wanted to tell her that everything she did, everything she could ever be, would always draw her toward these things by his hand. She could squirm and try to hide behind her shoulder all she wanted. She couldn't escape herself.

She'd dressed Ansa carefully, better than needed, and he was more than willing to offer her what she'd been promised. The lid came off slower than the paper, so he could save the sob the shoes received. She gave her one word plea, and he listened without complying. Dark eyes glistened with a promise of other things, though. She was no task to bind, no jabs or kicking, and he thought it was a delightful contrast.

When she fell her first time, he reached out, not to stay her, but to run his fingers over her arm and back as she placed herself on her knees, watering the thorns just slightly. He wanted to be part of that failing stumble. He did help her up, and smelt the blindfold and her temple at the same time, before letting her go. Would she understand that he gave her more gentleness when she was hurt? He walked quietly by her, to the sadistic wall that wanted to swallow her, but only managed to almost fell her again. He hooked his arm around her waist and slid it away from her, a cruel reward for having remained standing, elegant or not.

An inward breath, predatory, when she asked for help. How could he resist. With hands on his back, he walked ahead, and would call on her with a chastising voice, as though she should know better. She did not have Ansa's madness in the maze. The game had never been so-- honest as it was with Ophelia. He though he could watch the walls and floor slowly eat her all his life. But she would not last forever only because he wanted. When she sat and asked, he would come, pristine in his blues like the blues of the roses. If a lamb calls, the wolf comes.

He easily tapped the inside of her foot to part her poor legs further, that he could stand between them, looking down. The leather tips were courting the insides of her thighs, carelessly close to that apex. When she saw the spreads at breakfast, was this what she beheld? Because then he could have understood her hungry awe. She was sweating blood, or had been caught in a shower of it, bound by lace, undone by lace. He liked the curtain of crimson off one collarbone, that laid over one round orb, flirty in the slight cold. Would she ever stop this seduction?

Kvell leaned down to take her chin, and lift it. Her mouth had lashes of cuts around it, like she'd wanted to eat the roses. Silly girl and her appetite. He intended to feed her again. "I'll touch you first, then." he said before kissing her lower pout. A gentle peck, her first. She should be starving for tender, now. It was part of the deprivation. He kissed the upper, too, and then pressed his against both. With the shadow of the real reserve of his desire, he applied more pressure, and wandered the hand to the back of her head, in the hair that had taken on some blue blades, and some twigs. He gasped, imitating her when he unlocked from the little love they'd shared. And that would be it. The full price of his help.

And she would be mistaken to believe it. He pulled her head into him, the tug inevitably dragging her a small bit on the razor floor, until the immaculate tip of a perfect shoe touched her at the middle of her garden of softness. Modest girl, from the home. He kissed her harder, if a kiss it could be. Sometimes there were teeth, and almost always tongue. Rarely oxygen. He ate at her harshly, the kind of kiss found in the throes of hateful, naked revenge, that left both exhausted but satisfied. He took her like this until there was smooth elixir down her chin. Thick saliva and light blood, down her sternum. He pulled himself away and tossed her head back a bit as he stood, wiping life and spittle off his jaw. Her first real kiss.

Without effort, he moved his shoe from her privacy, and went behind her to undo the lace at her wrists, tying it loosely around her throat, instead. He helped her up, and stood, waiting for her to feel for him, and find him. He knew the labyrinth perfectly, and it had other clearings she'd meet, but not today. In this world, he was everything she could have or hate. All of Oleander, with the masks and the quiet, was designed so. Perhaps that was how the home had hoped to funnel the orphans toward prayer, as well. But he didn't start walking immediately. He let her touch him, have that little mercy. Something steady when she was swaying in the dark was a gift. If she embraced him and bloodied his shirt and jacket, he wouldn't say anything.

Then he would lead her, walk slowly but unstoppable. Even she would eventually learn the shoes, at this guiding pace. He took the blindfold off, and hung that around her neck too, when they were out of the mouth of the maze. The day would be blinding, almost the same as the cover for her eyes, at first, and then he'd stand there. At the end of the tortures, there'd always be him. He kissed his doll with the ragged hair on her forehead, as though she'd done good, and she had. He didn't allow her to take off the shoes, but she could hold his hand for balance or comfort.

He would listen to her complaints, or musings, or silence as they walked the house toward the pretty infirmary. No bath this time, only dabs of of liquid medicine, and then a broken up suit of bandages. The shoes could finally come off. He seemed content, and without secrets.

"What would you like to do, the rest of the day, Ophelia? I have other games, but you seem all played out." he asked the girl on the resting bed.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 06, 2016, 10:46:37 pm
She was glad when he came, though he’d been the one to put her on this mad game. In her hopeless, she was eager to please for the reward of being lead out. Ophelia would have reached out to hold fast to his legs when he stood between hers, if she’d been unbound. Instead, she played compliant, almost eager, when he brought his fingers against her chin.

His kiss was soft and opposed the sting of rose-laid cuts. He shoulders slumped. Another little peck, and she would have been mortified if she’d known him as her brother. Instead, it felt natural that her heart should flutter. A little hope for the end of this maze and a sparked desire for whatever tender the cold man might have. His capacity for cruelty was fresh. She wanted to drown it in convictions of a better nature.

When gentle gave way to a sort of violation she’d not experienced before, it was a better novelty than others he’d offered. Ophelia mewled against his mouth, lips spread like too much invitation. He pulled her and she felt his friction spiral heat up through her core. It was better than thorns, which were her alternative. She flushed, the way Ansa would flush after torturous hours, with the mere suggestion of intimacies she’d guarded her sweetness against. Good girl, dutiful girl, eager to serve God and the other orphans. Eager to serve Kvell now, if it set her free. There were so very many freedom’s she’d yet to taste.

His tongue, like his thumb, on her slick pink and she swayed like a branch in a storm. His current pulled her and whatever innocence down some new and provocative spiral. This sort of thing, in and of itself, should not have been so very suggestive. Teenage girls sneaking off behind High School bleachers had done similar or worse. But there was her blood and her nakedness and some holier-than-thou virginity of self that transformed it. A secret intimacy just for her. She leaned into him, because he touched her with thorns that didn’t hurt, and even his teeth were a comfort because she could expect them. Ophelia tried him, tasting him back, and learned a new desire. Perhaps she understood some small shade of his possessiveness and how it had captured Ansa.

A different sound vibrated in her throat, something from the night before, that reflexive satisfaction with sweets catapulted against his lips. She was panting when he tossed her away. “Sir,” she mumbled, when he moved away from her. When he freed her wrists, she looked for him immediately, fingers grasping for his arm. She hadn’t expected the blindfold to be removed and he didn’t. A small struggle to her feet, easier when she could lean on him, and buried herself against his arm. There was a need to be gone from this endless maze of sharp and jagged that replaced whatever shame she’d worn earlier.

Perhaps she should have been upset for being drawn into his labyrinth to begin with. To be upset for being thrust into this game. But she was too grateful for his assistance, then, to consider it so far. If he listened carefully, he might hear her praying as he led her slowly out of the maze. Prayers for forgiveness, mostly. Whether it was because she had been punished or because she felt she ought to be was hard to say; her entreating was jumbled with sighs. Finally, they stopped and he pulled her blindfold down. Something she could have attempted on her own if she’d not been clinging so tightly to him. “Thank you,” she breathed when she’d blinked her gaze into focus. The sun said she’d not been in the maze nearly as long as it had felt.

Half way back to the manor, on their way to the infirmary, she seemed to have sorted her thoughts. Extracted from that claustrophobic maze made frightening in the dark, Ophelia began to reconcile the turn of events. “That was really scary.” She said quietly. “Why did you do it?” she asked. Ansa loved cruelty for cruelty’s sake. It was unfiltered affection, so it was pure. Ophelia had yet to embrace such a concept. Each step was painful, the tedious shoes amplifying the stiffness of all her little cuts drying thin black lines on her pale skin. Her bruised ribs, too, look a bit worse for the morning’s activities.

“Did you kiss Ansa like that, also?”

She tried to hide behind him when they reached the house and the impassive eyes of the servants there. “May I get dressed?” she asked him, modesty pressing more than her hurts with the threat of strange stares. The answer was to the negative, at least until she’d been brought to the infirmary and set on a bed there. He was methodical with tending to her, but she thought she would have liked another bath.

Lying there, naked, her expression was perplexed when he continued on so casually. What would she like to do, he asked her, as if they’d just been out for a morning stroll. “Games?” she echoed, as if she couldn’t fathom, but pressed her lips shut quickly for fear of having submitted to new and strange tortures. “Where is Nathan?” she asked, when she wasn’t sure what a safe answer would be. Perhaps it had been a poor choice, asking for another man. But surely the butler might give her a clue as to what was safe.

If he didn't find her request offensive, she would ask the butler for clothes. Whether it was Kvell or the servant that provided them, she wouldn't particularly care. Ophelia simply wanted to be covered. She shivered, as if to emphasize the need. If it had been ill-trodden ground, she'd be sure to recognize her mistake quickly. What she couldn't know was the price of repentance.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 07, 2016, 07:51:03 pm
Her inexperienced tasted well, with her turning into his lips like a light-starved  thing toward a wound in the clouds. That little sympathy for her simplicity was traded for a spreading hunger, a hollow, his always-infection, when her complicity came as a response to his assertion, against, inside. This kind of result had been harder and harder to goad out of Ansa, perhaps her downfall, and here it was, some polished pearl, growing wild without a shell. He read it though, and knew something about her that she could not. No teeth, no breath trying to solidify in the gullet and expel him. She was willing because the human body was willing, before Ansa had taught hers rebellion, opposition. He sighed into her mewling sounds, surprised, greedy. Nothing like the sister that had gone.

He was a bit enamored by her, her quiet, unaware seduction, when she clung to him. He’d not had this before, and not known that he wanted it. Perhaps this was at the end of his desire, to rip away the things bolted to the soul by adolescence and hardening experiences for the heart, so someone would cling honestly to him, and need him like an anchor. So he lead his attached sister, walking in rhythm with her spoken song. It only acted to make her holier, the most exquisite sleeve he’d worn. He wondered if the heartbreak of loss, it’s physical punishment, had been to trade for this, then, a flesh doll that needed so little to give her everything.

“Because you loved it.” He said. It had become true, hadn’t it? “You liked to go through the trial, and you liked that I was there in the end.” Had she known she prayed for him, on her knees, rose needles carrying her? Would she appreciate the switch of symmetry? He wanted that title, to her. “It was the most you’ve felt.” It was impossible that he was wrong. And if he was, there was no forgiveness for the home she’d come from, and he would burn it. He grinned with the side of his face she couldn’t see when she mentioned her sister, and what affection he’d done to her.

“What should I answer to ease you?” he asked when she started to discover her nudity, with the rise of the mansion before them, and the masked men and women. “Yes, every day, that I am leagues farther into this than you? Because that would be true. Doesn’t that affect your heart a little, to hear that?” A light imprint of his upper incisors onto his lower lip when he reconsidered. “Or that I tried to kiss Ansa like that, and that my heart was never as beaconed as it was now, when I had you in the same way? Does that swell your heart, instead?” he grew the silence as a gift. I might feel like all the gifts she’d gotten so far, sweet and then hard. “Because it might be so, too.” He didn’t know. “Did you enjoy being kissed like that, Ophelia?” but he knew that, at least. “Because you were making sounds as though you were back at the table, eating sticky sweets for the first time.”

She may not get dressed. If he did let her have clothes, then she wouldn’t  be so inclined to his arm, and he needed to tend to her hurt. He offered a kiss on her hair, instead, and continued on.

In the room where he’d put Ansa together, sometimes saved her life, he thought Ophelia’s blood trails, the ones still moist, took on ruby sheen from the windows. She looked like the pretties replica, then, denied skin with onyx and ruby inlays, and a patch of somber bruising beneath deep text, because surely she could not be this lovely and remain a person. And then that flighty enjoyment, smoothening his forehead, became a few creases that escaped her light. “Games, then.” He teased. But he had some mercy for her, bought by her perfect responses to the rose test, and let it stretch on the white of his eyes, that perhaps she didn’t need to worry. His little almost-human, wrapped here and there in gauze.

But the little girl in the large mansion with the larger ego by her side spent it all before she could enjoy it. Nathan was around the corner, because he’d not been told to avoid them, in the house. When the butler moved to turn around the frame of the door, and her eyes were at the ceiling, Kvell lifted his arm, hand rigid to let it be known Nathan was not welcome. The Brandston man retreated quick, before Ophelia could see. Instead there’d only be her bother, smiling gently, with the shards from his shattered good mood at the bottom of his stomach. The hand became pliable as it touched her cheekbone, the one covered. He’d made sure to wrap one of her eyes too, because he liked the aestetchics. She only really needed the rest of the embalming ritual to be well on her way to last forever, in a tomb. The low belt, gauze too, could provide some modesty for her, and her rounds were well wound up in his wrapping art. He’d done the same to the other rosy haired girl.

“He is in your room.” And she’d never heard his voice so sugary before. He was deft at imitating the faithful prince. “Let’s go see him. He’s been waiting for you. I’m so sorry for hurting you like this. Come.” He helped her up, without her new shoes. After looking her up and down, he threw his hands up. How silly of him to want her to walk by herself. Of course he took her in his arms, his bandaged doll, and whisked her toward the chambers she knew the best. “Things will be better from now on.” He said with laughter that had none of the audible hooks and nails that grated his throat as her performed. Ansa hurt him like this sometimes, but it was in her nature, it was play, mostly. Ophelia – sweet, adorable, wretched, traitorous, ungrateful Ophelia – did not have such vile. She had honesty. And that was worse.

His shoes pushed her door open with such force that it swung back on its hinges and closed on his own, once he’d danced over the threshold on skilled but stiff legs. His arms were suddenly not so familiar with her body, stone-like. “Oh. It seems your Nathan is not here.” He said with some mock disappointment, the veil thinner but not yet abandoned. He put her down on the bed without romance, but kept the drop still civil. “You should look for him, Ophelia.” He said and turned his head this and that way, hands behind his back clenching to give him strength to uphold the act. “Perhaps in here.” And he walked quickly over to the cabined in the corner. The gyros opened for his expert fiddling, and one of the doors obscured as he opened it and reached in. “No. No rooster. No gentle man or gentleman or servant or young father figure for you.” He said, aghast, as he took something out, that hung, black in his hand as he returned toward her. He put no pretend in his stride now, and that would be an unsettling contrast to his face, still masked with such pretend.

“Maybe you should call for him.” He suggested, voice crackling, if she didn’t already know. “He’s far though, I think. Better make it loud, Ophelia.” Spitting words, grown jaw from the tension of speaking through teeth. There he was. The Kvell that Kvell felt. He took her legs this time, and welcomed her squirming, Ansa had kicked him hard when this girl wouldn’t. Eventually she would be belly down, ankles in leather, legs spread and hooked by rings to the rings of the bed board. “This is not even a game.” He said with some distaste and pulled at her bandage belt with even less romance than he’d dropped her with. He rear exposed to the ceiling. Then he took off his own belt. “Call him, Ophelia.” He encouraged before the first crack laid a mark. He would usually have more control for Ansa. Why was Ophelia so infuriating when she was honest? Why did it make him feel weak?

On the back of her thighs, and on her back and shoulder blades too, welts radiating from the center line of her spine. Maybe he’d make her angel wings. It took something out of him when he pushed her hair up, tied it in a knot on her scalp, and whipped the back of her neck. The trained hands still tried to make it sweet, burning, but how could he be controlled when he felt so angry? She better not cry so much into the sheets that she didn’t repeat and sing what he wanted to hear. Nathan would be just outside, to listen in agony at his name, too. But the rooster, who knew there were worst things in the cabinet for Ophelia’s health, would be more worried by Kvell’s voice. It was harder than Ansa might have heard. Kvell didn’t let Ophelia have her arms out, punishing them with the belt if she reached. She could have them underneath herself and no further. “Why aren’t you singing, Ophelia? He’ll come if you’re sweeter.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 09, 2016, 04:47:36 am
Ophelia stared at him oddly when he asked her. “I don’t know if I enjoyed it.” She said to him. “I’m your sister, aren’t I?” she asked. “There was a lot about that garden I shouldn’t have enjoyed.” She said, though she did not confirm she hadn’t enjoyed it. Ophelia was not very good at lying and hadn’t a mind to try, either. She was confused, because she was in pain and he had frightened her, but there was a heat between her hips when she remembered the way he had felt when he’d stood between her legs and brought her the help she’d so desperately asked for. He had saved her, even if he’d cast her into that trial to begin with. She didn’t know what to make of that sort of compassion or the taste of his tongue.

She did not have all too much time to sort those perplexities out, once they had reached the infirmary. Ophelia might not have understood her own blunder, but Lord of the manor most certainly had. She’d be made to grasp it quickly, of course.

Ansa had never played well into these ruses, when they came up. She had known Kvell to well and, even if she had not, she had been too stubborn and paranoid to follow him willingly toward just about any end. If she were punished for her insufferable contrariness, it only emboldened her further. Ophelia was a different bird, he already knew. She did not disappoint now, though, either.

“Okay.” She agreed with him. “Thank you.” Ophelia said, both for covering her with the bandages and giving her the butler’s whereabouts. Surely, if he were in her room, that meant she would be allowed to dress also. Perhaps the rooster had even brought her a set of clothes to wear for the afternoon. Maybe Kvell had planned it with him in advance. A gentler soul might have reconsidered their fury with the dutiful way she made to follow him, limping toward him like he had all the loyalty her heart could offer. She even smiled at him, when he picked her up. Thanked him again.

Kvell had strange games, she thought, but he had yet to let her despair. He came when she called and fed her sweets. He brought her presents, even if they hurt, and he held her like a precious doll. He had spilt her blood to leave his mark, but the very words entreated her to stay. Ophelia thought she must be playing his games wrong. Surely, this man that bandaged and bathed her with such care must only be cruel when he was forced. It must be her fault. Ansa, she thought, must have been much better. He was still grieving and this was why he tortured her at one turn and loved her at another. He was training her to be a good sister.

“It’s okay. It hurt, but you helped me. I’m sure you didn’t mean it any more than I deserved. I’m sorry I don’t know how to be your sister.” Surely not, if he’d kissed Ansa the way he’d kissed her. She’d never have conceived of such behavior, let alone with her kin. The Sisters would have found it scandalous. It troubled her that she didn’t know what he expected of her, but she reached up to touch his cheek as reassurance that she would do her best.

Miserable girl. She looked so earnestly confused when he opened her door and she found the room empty. A sudden and chilly realization when his voice cracked hard. She had done something wrong again. “Oh.” She said, and her lips remained parted in some sweet mortification. “Oh, I’m sorry I—“ she meant to say that she’d not meant to imply she preferred the butler’s company, though she’d have been lying if she didn’t admit his less volatile nature was more restful than the Oleander prince’s tempestuous shifts.

Ophelia was given no such luxury of explanation, and she scrambled as far away from him on the bed as she could when he began his mocking search of her quarters for the rooster she understood, clearly, was not to be found. “Sir, it’s really okay, we don’t need to find him.” Like a child, hoping to assuage an angered parent, she bargained with patience that was not hers to barter. “I’m sorry!” she shrieked when came at her and took her by the ankles. She tried to pull away from him, grabbing at the plush blankets like they might give her some leverage. Tragic.

Her breath went out of her when he put her on her stomach, bandages rubbing roughly against her tender cut skin when she struggled. She was bound deftly and she was terrified by his skill, stringing her as easily as he had the night before by her opposite limbs. If she’d been pained by the friction of her bandages, she was more distressed when he removed those he’d placed for her modesty. “Please stop, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.” Ophelia was whimpering, crying already because she knew he had the capacity to hurt her. It is more frightening when it is so far within the realm of possibility.

When the blows fell she continued to appeal, sobbing and begging him to forgive her. It was not what he asked, though, and she bit down on the pillow beneath her face in torment. To say what he asked was to invite him to hate her more, she knew, but to disobey was simply that. Ophelia lost count of his lashes before her silent weeping broke. “Mr. Brandston,” she whispered, and it was not nearly enough to satisfy his want for singing.

She couldn’t know how many times she would whimper and call the rooster’s name before it was loud enough that he would hear her on the other side of the door. Surely Kvell would have heard the aching syllables again and again before they had peaked at a volume he could catch. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Nathan, please,” Ophelia’s voice was shaking and sincere. She tried twice to reach out, searching for Kvell himself, maybe, and was quickly rebuffed so she curled her fists beneath her chest.

Ophelia would never say the butler’s name again, if Kvell asked. She’d never look at another man, either, if he demanded it. The belt hurt but the fury hurt more. His games seemed like sweetness, now. A boy teasing a girl he fancied, even. It wasn’t that the lashes were so incredibly severe, even, that she could not have endured it for some time. His voice cut, though, and she was frightened every time she complied and called Nathan’s name. Perhaps she feared that he was, even now, restraining himself and she did not know what might break it. She wished she were back in the Labyrinth. At least, then, it was Kvell’s name she’d been allowed to call and he so very clearly held every string of her fate here.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 10, 2016, 01:04:19 am
The joy of hearing little hints in her answers about the garden wasn't enough to have built her immunity toward his new plans, of course. But they were saved for later, whether he acknowledged it or not, as the slight burned him further. Through the red that he saw, that was risen from the black that he felt, he would have wanted to enjoy her little naiveties. It would be his puffy pastries with berries, if he wasn't already on a mission. He dedicated small, dramatic laughter at it, though, to encourage her, and lull her further.

It was not as rhythmic as it had been in the labyrinth, when he took her to the room after having heard her forgiveness for everything he'd done. Truly, Ophelia was a saint. It was a fact he didn't know what to do with, in his burn, which made it hard for him to breathe. Perhaps for a smaller crime, like clawing out his eyes or biting off his ear, it would have been enough to buy her his forgiveness. But even when she trusted him to travel them to her room again, and when she came inside, he was too slighted to forget.

He could enjoy her realization well, be a glutton about it, when she pleaded on the bed. It should have stacked her lovelies high enough for him to finally hold her, and comfort her to say it was quite fine, but he was not of such a silk soul, today. Such a scrumptious little girl, running around on her bed as though it was her kingdom, and he was some big troll coming to it. Her words did not attach to his ears then, either, and she would find herself as she would, with her eyes downward, and her shame toward the ceiling.

Perhaps he had forgiven her, for guilt of his inelegant lashings, by the time she gave the name. It was the only outcome, really. But he became further mad, upon hearing her say what he wanted. It was his plan. A fire having others pass the fuel. Her flesh velted the way he knew it would, the only acceptable way a prime toy should. Kvell and his black eyes took her in, her hands hiding after what he'd taught them, a growing map of marks on her already dotted skin. Even as property this was not sound treatment. So he stayed his hand, but it was at a crucial angel, and the belt lashed her louder. And the guilt fueled the rest of the session. Who was she to make him feel guilty for dealing that which was deserved?

But she said the name in a volume he had to acknowledge, at last. His sweet, long lost Ophelia. When she did, he pulled that belt away from it's striking intention, the lash landing and wrapping around his other arm, a skilled stop, because he was a practiced dealer. He breathed with the strain of his anger. Inside him it tried to wring free from the guilt webbing through it. Ansa had never injected such things into his heart. Hers were always clean things. He knew what to do, where to hurt. "Good." he said, no conviction, no adherence.

He didn't have the plan on what to do next. This morning he had. Educate the new girl. Give her picturesque torment because the soul can see its shell, and then take her on culinary wanderings. Now he was by her bed, Ansa's bed, in a room filling with the scent of her tears. It registered as heat, from her breath, and a kind of saturation. He was good at remembering this scent, of emanating distress that he'd caused. The belt hung over the back of his neck, and he clasped the ends hard, looking aristocratic, breathing barbarian, through his polished teeth. She cried and it had been sweet before, but it wasn't now. Or it could be, if he filtered away his part in it. Her fault that she cried so well. She would notice how his chest inflated more for each take. Something building that didn't want to grow.

"Well, sorry you are." was all that he could find, the dizzy from wrath shrinking his sight with darkness. Funny how too much oxygen feels like so much choking. He was bustling with something, if her eyes weren't drowning too deep to see. He parted his mouth wide, that predatory trap, but he shut it, biting off what he'd say next. Kvell ran out of the room and thought the wind in his wake and the open door might look like fury to her.

Nathan, who had his own suffering, followed his ward, honestly unable to keep up at first. When Kvell turned, two bends away from her room, his eyes widened with insult, and reached for the mask that had inserted itself between him and the sister that lived. "I'll go back. If she wants to talk to you, she'll have you." he said with fangs. Nathan stepped back and it made the sir growl so he wouldn't maim. "Give me the..."

"Sir! You're not playing anymore." And the mask did come off, but the butler didn't give it away. "Lady Ansa wouldn't." he tried, but there was pressure between them, the kind that precedes disasters. "Lady Ophelia didn't mean..." And knuckles wrapped twice in leather strap collided with the cheek that the mask had hid.

"Don't you lecture me on my sisters, Nathan!" Kvell said, panic and so much swirling storm through the spittle of his warning. "Don't you even say their names right now!"

"What are you going to do with the mask? Torment her further? You're not playing. You're just a raw nerve spewing poison. If you go to her with this you'll only..." but Kvell would not have it. He didn't want to know he'd be unfair and self-indulgent and weak. He didn't want to hear Nathan's perspective on what had claimed Ansa. So he ran out into the garden and screamed into the labyrinth until his hand bled around the belt and its buckle he was clutching too hard. Until he was on his knees, too, on the rose spikes, and he'd filled the corridors with his anguish.

Nathan did come to Ophelia, with a smile underneath the cut of the mask, where swelling had started. In this, they were siblings, too. She was still on her bed, of course, held there with leather and metal circles. Sweet girl. He knew where the sheets were folded, and draped one over her back. "I'm sorry, Ophelia." he said, touching the hair, which he assumed was the only spared area. "I couldn't come. Kvell would not have allowed it." He sighed and shook his head at the situation. "He's hurt, but not by you, not really." he tried. "I'll have him come by and release you before dinner." No one but Kvell was allowed to handle her restraints. Some of the gyros were clever, but the orders were simpler. Once, Ansa had been without means to move for almost a week, with the forgetful sir gone. Nathan would stay and talk to her. There had been no orders not to. "How can I soothe you?"

At night, hours after a flushed Kvell had darted in, released her, and gone out, a little feast had been made in the corridor, just outside her room. He had meant to show her the delights of uncooked meats, anyway. Kvell wore bandage on his right hand, to hide the cut. His clothes were black, as his eyes. She would have been provided the same palette. A robe, mercy for her pains, and modesty. The chipper she would be met with would be forced, but not in the way he'd deceived her before, to lead her to small ruin. Instead his shame would be palpable through the facade. If uncomfortable, it was also well intended. He didn't know he'd made her feel as though she'd wronged him. He only assumed she'd be nursing her velts, remembering his tantrum. Nathan was allowed close, since he was some kind of mascot of safety for her. it made sense to Kvell now.

"It's my favorite." he explained at the plates, once they were seated. The cuts were from pampered animals, from the sea and from farms not far. The pieces that were served thin, usually, had been cut almost translucent, as this was her introduction. "It's vulgar, I know, but it's also quite satisfying." he put a dice of red into his mouth, using chopsticks. Primal. His cheek filled as he ground the meat. Would she notice his voice was diminished from its usual flawlessness? Even the beautiful monster of Oleander Manor could not spend his voice box into blue roses and not suffer some kind of mar. He swallowed and cleared his throat.

"It's an experience." he said, the smile worn for her sake, once he'd licked of blood. He held up his hand to her chin, and pink meat, rolled around the tips of the sticks, toward her lips. Her chair was extra soft, considering. He was a bit afraid she wouldn't take the bite. He'd not wronged someone like this before, and he didn't know what an apology was in this context. Spoiled rotten, but also spoiled senseless. He wanted to go back to inventing ways to make her squirm and mewl, but couldn't, now that he had trespassed. He thought it was a loss to both of them. "Please tell me what you think. The staff doesn't like it, and neither did mother. But father and I would sometimes sneak into the kitchen at night, where the staff would have candlelight and this for us." If she looked closely, she might see the blush of anger hadn't completely died from his hue. It let him look alive, and like the boy he'd been, growing up in these corridors.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 10, 2016, 02:15:16 am
Ophelia hadn’t had words for him, sniffling soft and hiding her face in the blankets. She peeked out at him once, but was quick to bury her gaze again. He did not untie her. She nodded agreement with him when he cut the silence, but found it painful from the welts on her neck. So much skin an angry red in curious patterns across her. Some language, maybe. Commandments.

When he left, she did not look after him nor see whatever turmoil he’d put himself in. She squeezed her blurry eyes shut and mouthed a prayer for salvation to the blankets. Left alone, she wept quietly and scolded herself for her faults and the things which had angered him. Ophelia’s heart was deeply troubled. God did not exact judgement until the final hour and had goodness to accept a repentant soul. Kvell was a man without such niceties. He was very present, she felt, and very frightening. She had always been a blundering girl, good-hearted but often clumsy and naïve. God did not mind these qualities, because she was His child. Kvell was her brother and made no excuses on her behalf.

She determined she had wronged him severely and hoped she had suffered enough that she had sufficiently atoned. Ophelia stored the lesson deep within her. To ask for another man on the heels of Kvell’s kindness was cruel and wrong. She would not do it again.

Just as she began to recover herself, breath coming a bit deeper and awash with a guilty calm, the door opened. It was Nathan, she realized quickly, and she struggled a bit in her bonds for fear of him drawing near. He should not be close to her because he was not Kvell. Kvell might beat her again for allowing it. She was gasping, throwing herself as far from him as she could on the bed, but stilled when he apologized. Blinking up at him with eyes some shades lighter than his master’s, she looked first confused and then distraught. She could see the start of bruising on the edges of the rooster mask and looked horrified for his hurt.

“Mr. Brandston, I’m so sorry. Did he hit you too? Was it because of me?” she asked him. Sweetling, forgetting her own aches to fuss over his as well as one could in leather straps. “It’s okay. It’s certainly not your fault. You shouldn’t have come, I’m glad you didn’t. He was very scary.” She had the look of something hunted flicker across her face. “You shouldn’t be here now, either, I think. I don’t want Sir Kvell to misunderstand. I’m okay by myself.” She tried to smile for him, and succeeded in a pathetic sort of way. Fresh tears dropping to tease the corners of those bravely upturned lips.

She ignored him then, regardless of whether the butler chose to stay or go, and curled her arms tight across her chest. After some time, she fell asleep in her bonds. Her morning had been exhausting and her afternoon more so. Ophelia looked peaceful when she slept, lips parted and soft even breaths from the weary form. Even as her mind slipped into a deep and dreamless sleep, her body began its work of announcing its many injustices. She looked like something celestial, whirling mottle of deep space blues and violets cut with red, green, and brown. Soft body, unaccustomed to this treatment, displayed plainly its need for care.

When Kvell came in to release her, she woke suddenly and found herself alone. Immediately, he would see that she was afraid, but looked intently to him. Some hope that his anger had subsided. Simple creature, staring at him mournfully and shouldering full blame for the earlier transaction. It was a wonder that Ophelia did not question the soundness of his judgment. Terrible and wonderful.

Ophelia was relieved when he left quickly, without speaking, and locked her door behind him. What had felt like an unsettling trap but a single morning before was comforting now. Kvell had been given something more impressionable than he could know yet. Ansa had not been cut of the same cloth.

When she was left alone, she went to Ansa’s desk and opened the journal there, again.

I hid from the shadows for hours today. I locked myself in the cellar and lit every candle I could find. The shadows shrank away from the light but their screaming would not stop. They want to swallow me alive, I swear it. I won’t let them, though. I’ll snuff myself out before they can take me. Kvell was extremely cross with me when I let myself out in the evening. The cellar is the one room in the house which has no lock on the outside, so he could not reach me. He says he knew I was there the entire time and was calling for me at the door. I didn’t hear him, though, so I think he’s lying to make me apologize. Maybe the screaming was just too loud, though. Either way, I won’t apologize. I don’t have to apologize to Kvell. Everyone else makes me apologize too much, as it is.

He wouldn’t see me for the rest of the afternoon. I think Nathan finally convinced him to come, because I kept pestering him to do so. He wasn’t angry anymore, when he came, which was a shame because I was. He shouldn’t have made me wait, I think. I was very mean to him, when he strung me up in the bed. I told him to kill me, but he wouldn’t do it. He hates it when I ask and tells me I shouldn’t laugh. He must know I’m not kidding, though. If anyone is going to swallow me alive, it has to be Kvell. I really won’t let anyone else.


Ophelia closed the book with a snap and shoved it into the desk drawer. How cruel. She wasn’t sure if she thought so about Ansa or Kvell. Both, perhaps. She thought she was glad to have grown up in the orphanage. Surely her spirit would not have been able to stand the way Ansa wrote of her self-destruction and the way she beckoned Kvell along with her. Even without that sentimental attachment, her heart ached for them both. Kvell must be very lonely. She would have to apologize to him again, for asking for someone else.

When she received the clothes, she slipped them on quickly and made to follow Nathan the rooster out to the dining room. The robe was long and gauzy, delectably light on her tender skin. It billowed behind her as she walked, flowing like some royalty because it was too long. She took her seat properly and folded her hands into her lap. She was not surprised when she saw no utensils set out for her. It might even have been worrisome to her if there had been.

Kvell spoke to her as if he’d never taken the belt to her at all; as if they’d simply parted ways after their journey through the rose maze. She noticed a new hoarseness to his voice, though, and did not miss the bandages on his hand. He might have noticed that she pointedly avoided acknowledging the butler’s presence, once she had entered the room. He might also have noticed that she winced whenever she turned her head and chose not to lean her back against the high seat.

Ophelia accepted the food he offered, though she looked at it with some trepidation. There was something deeply wrong about the dribble of red that slicked down her chin. She was too gentle to make it look natural if it wasn’t her own blood. She found that she didn’t hate the flavor but was not fond of the texture nor the sentiment. When he asked her for her opinion, she stared at him and wasn’t sure what to say. She was thinking before she spoke now. She had learned.

“The taste is alright. I suppose it’s silly, but somehow it seems more cruel than regular meats, though.” She said quietly, and laughed weakly at herself for the thought. She hadn’t missed the little flare left in his color. After some prolonged silence, she apologized to him again. “I’m very sorry, Sir.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 10, 2016, 04:35:23 pm
Nathan had no choice but to recognize her as an angel, accused of falling, but still with her wings and innocence, when she wore the ravaged back, but asked if he might be fine, with his little beginning swell. He shook his head for answer, so she wouldn't worry. He'd watched enough hurt by Kvell's hands to expect at least this amount, himself. He wondered, as much as he loved Kvell, and believed in him, still, if this girl, whom the family had neglected, wasn't too precious to be played with, the way the sir liked to play. "You are too good." he let her know before he left, understanding she'd decided to forget that he was there, out a loyalty Kvell had not earned.

Kvell thought the dress was the only color to eat raw things in, but it looked like mourning on Ophelia. Ansa was her vivid protest in it, ready to shed it and run, or keep it and fight. The life - distant because the owner had gone and become bits and pieces - running down her lip and chin was appealing. He fixated on it as she chewed the meat. He put cartilage in his own mouth, the sound of his grinding drowning the light bites she contributed between them. Cartilage, when it's gray, doesn't have the salt that is the novelty of taking things uncooked. For his pleasure, he leaned in, held her head still, and collected the red that split her chin. He smiled, to pay for the crimson he'd received, and leaned back.

When she answered, he understood why she couldn't possibly enjoy the meal as much as he. Cruelty was a taste, after all. His. She might never develop the tongue for it. "It does, doesn't it?" but he said it as though it might be its greatest triumph, to taste adequate, but feel cruel. "It can be a bit like eating pieces of one's own heart." he drank from the harsh wine. "It most certainly is eating pieces of someone elses." And there the pious orphan was, by her prison chambers, talking to a monster going on about eating others, butchered spirits on his breath, at night.

The glee, that had shaken some of the shame she'd not seen, came off like unfastened glitter from porcelain, when she asked for forgiveness again. The lack of light didn't reveal something vengeful with a belt, or something playful with a blindfold. "Don't be." That way I won't be. Soft practicality, rather. He'd seen the stiff in her neck, now striped with lines that curled around the column to say something at him even from where he sat, in front of her. He had to assume it was to avoid Nathan, this tension in her long muscles. Kvell's lesson was that Ophelia would break herself sooner than she would inconvenience him. He bought that with a bit of mortification. He fancied that he would learn greatly from it, and be grateful about that, but truly - which Nathan knew - it would only add to her pain in other games.

"I would like to ask you for something." And it was quite serious, in that his voice steadied, without meat against his teeth. "Would you say a prayer for Ansa?" It wasn't as somber as it should be. "She didn't believe, or if she did, she didn't put it very high." she'd believed in their bond before anything else. She had believed in him. "But I should do my best to make her comfortable. I thought I could if I asked you to speak for her, since I don't think my voice could climb my sins." More wine. "Does it work like that, Ophelia?" he wanted it to. How simple things would be. How truly merciful.

After a few more bloody things to eat, and as many tender cleanings of her lips, he reached to place a silver dome on her plate. As he removed the lid, there was a small tart, just the size he knew she preferred. "It doesn't belong. Me and father usually just went to bed breathing the rawness, but I know your tooth is sweet more than it is predatory." he held it up with an encouraging smirk. "We can all have our own habits." But he would not allow her to decline.

There had been some affection in the morbid supper, and he'd taken to it, but not all that is done by leather can be rebuilt with recent death and sugar. He stood and leaned in, a soft hand on her marked neck. He almost kissed her, with his hoarse mouth to her screamed lips. Instead he offered those eyes onto hers. That he saw her, and that whatever transferred now was what he felt. A connection, at least, weighted as it was. Hopefully she'd not add it to her own tally, because he didn't mean to make her pliable with guilt. Not tonight. Then Kvell left. The staff followed the master, all but one sparrow, who started picking up around her. A china, glass and silver kind of stillness, heavy with the darkness outside. It would last until Ophelia stood up.

"I grew up with Kvell." she said suddenly, the sparrow, to make the girl wait, and hurried to wipe her hands on the apron to follow Ophelia. Apparently her job was to see the twin to her room. And probably lock it. The sparrow was just a bit taller. "He's a gorgeous heart, isn't he?" Her lips were dark and round, and she held her fingers in front, hands bouncing as she walked. Talkative bird. "But he's hungry." She swallowed slowly, breathing through the little beak. "I don't think it'll ever be enough." she shook her head as she opened the door. "I'm Moa. Their family owned mine for generations. I'm paper on the walls or the paintings in corners noone goes, on my good days. Kvell told me to make your acquaintance, and now I have. I'm allowed to answer your questions, but please don't call my name if he whips you. He loves Nathan. He doesn't love me." she held out her hand, and it had black nails. He'd not told her she had to shake, so she would leave if Ophelia didn't want the contact, or some answers. She would lock the door if there was nothing else. There would be a light gown on the bed for her.

Another night would wrap itself around the sharp moon. And the same night would turn that pale light into blue, until it was burnt away by the sun. She'd be allowed to sleep a little longer, in her timeless room, because they had been up late. Kvell would come rushing in eventually, a phone in his bound hand. High boots today, and a coat. No particular theme. He was grateful for the phone, even if this might have woken her. "It's Netty." he explained and held out the device to her.

He was to leave directly after, give them privacy. But he would discover, clutching the door frame, what a perfect thing it was that Ophelia had to speak with the woman, in her gown, which was so gentle and worn by Ansa that it let her new colors shine through. Why, if he wanted, he could do a whole lot to his sister, and she'd still have to speak with the sister of the home with a convincing voice, lest she be called home sooner than her contract said. He closed the door behind him, and leaned against it innocently, waiting for the conversation to set before he did his morning improvisation.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 12, 2016, 05:09:16 pm
Ophelia was surprised by his request. She wore that plainly in the way she froze and searched his face for signs of teasing. When she found none, she nodded. “Yes. I mean. No, I don’t think it works that way. You can pray regardless of your sins. But yes, of course I will say a prayer for your—our sister.” She fumbled through her answer. Ophelia was glad to have been asked. If nothing else, it was a goodness they could both agree on. She was becoming increasingly worried that behaving to Kvell’s liking required repentance to her God after. There were stories in the bible about serving multiple gods. It was generally frowned upon.

She was gentle with the tart he gave her to close their meal. A small morsel of comfort that sang to her sweeter than his raw meats had. Ophelia had been well behaved, though, taking whatever foods he’d put to her lips. She took her reward, now, as if it were precious. Despite that kindness, she had obviously not renewed all her faith in her dark prince. When he went to touch her, she flinched and he might nearly have heard her sigh of relief when he pulled away and she found herself unscathed.

Ophelia didn’t move immediately, after Kvell left. In fact, she wasn’t entirely sure she was allowed. To this point, despite being told she was free to wander; she’d been guided to and from every room with such efficiency that she hardly believed she could pick her own steps. When she was sure there was no Nathan to take her back to her room and Kvell did not sweep back in to spirit her off to some new and awful game, she stood. The sparrow chirped her still before she’d moved from the table.

The bird made Ophelia feel tall and spindly, like a strange spider next to the tiny woman with her soft round curves. Not far in age from herself, she was sure, though she couldn’t have spoken in which direction. It was a new thing to be looking down at someone when she’d grown used to gazing upward. To God. To Kvell. To Nathan.

“Gorgeous heart?” she asked quietly, though the sparrow went on chattering. She didn’t really understand what that was supposed to mean. But Ophelia was still grappling with the loyalty of the house to their wicked master, as a rule. She had her own sensibilities, a desire to please drawn out of a fear of retribution and a desire to redeem out of a cultivated sweetness. For staff, though, she thought he ought to be simply frightening. Or maybe his shifting moods had been reserved for his sisters.

They had reached her room. “Oh. It’s good to meet you, Moa.” Ophelia said, accepting the handshake with a little flare of enthusiasm. “It’s good to have another name. I’ll admit it’s a little bit lonely, being surrounded by masks.” She confided. Ophelia caught her lower lip under her teeth. “You and Nathan seem to care a good deal for my brother. And you say he loves Nathan, also…” she hesitated. “Is it that I’m doing something wrong that he hurts me?” she asked. “Can you tell me how to be better?” Ophelia had not let go of Moa’s hand, but dropped it then and clasped her own fingers together as if she’d found a new saint to beg council of. “I think, maybe, I don’t understand.” She looked worried. “I don’t think I love him the way you all do.”

Ophelia took what answers Moa felt inclined to give and did not press further. She was suspicious that she had said too much, as it was. If Kvell had told Moa to speak to her, surely it would not take much to have Moa chirp for him, too. She had told Kvell that she would try to love him, and that much was true. She had not said she had accomplished that task. She told herself he should know how she felt, at least a little, and tried to rest easy.

She put on the provided sleeping down and knelt by her bed. If she had been offensive in admitting her feelings, she could make up for it by honoring his request. Ophelia prayed for Ansa’s peace and whatever forgiveness and grace her soul might require. She prayed a bit, too, for Kvell’s spirit and her own.

When she fell asleep, she dreamt of locking herself in the cellar and finding Ansa smiling from her leather-angel bonds. There was banging on the door but Ophelia was more frightened of the man on the other side than the grinning corpse. She called for help and Ansa stepped down, pulling chain wings wide and wrapping them around the orphan twin. She heard Kvell calling sweetly from outside the cellar. “He’s in your room, Ophelia. Let’s go find Nathan.”

She did not wake from her restless dreams until Kvell’s arrival startled her from her slumber. Ophelia jerked upright, gathering her blankets up in front of her. He was holding out a phone. In her addled half-wake state, she stared blankly back at him. Netty’s name cleared whatever drowsy was slowing her in an instant. She reached eagerly for the device.

“Sister Netty!” she gasped, cradling the phone against her cheek as if it were the most precious thing in the world to her. Perhaps she hated it there. Her blankets dropped away when she grabbed for the phone so that she sat in them like a whirlpool of rich cloths, now. Rising up, a silky sea nymph, her body wore its protests richly today. Their colors were garish beneath the thin sleeping gown, though the letters of Kvell’s contract were beginning to show some more definition where her older bruises were ripening in hazy browns.

Netty was quick to ask her how she was faring at Oleander Manor. She told Ophelia they’d received a call, two mornings prior, from a Nathan Brandston who had said Ophelia would be staying the month. The sister was curious about the arrangement and insistent on details.  “Ah, well. I’m doing fine.” Ophelia said, though she frowned. It was good Netty had not come to visit in person. “The Manor is really beautiful. It’s bigger than St. Emiliani’s, with half as many people.” A weak laugh. “Oh, you see, I’m staying for a while because Sir—my brother thought I should give living here a try. It is technically my home, also, I guess.” She said, toying with a lock of her hair as she picked her words. A pause.

“Don’t worry, Sister, I haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s only been a couple of days. And, even if I stay, I’ll come by to visit and say my goodbyes. You’re all my family.” She giggled, a little happier this time. “You have to make up your mind. Do you want me back or not?” she teased. Sister Netty blustered on about ‘what was best for Ophelia.’ Ophelia laid back in her pillows. “Well. As I said, I’ve made no decisions. I’ll do what I think is best, in the end. I promise.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 12, 2016, 10:14:38 pm
The sparrow girl listened to Ophelia, to the replies at what the sparrow had said. Truly a bird then, with her head on one side, and then quickly on the other, as she took Ophelia in. The mask served this purpose for all of them, the lack of expression to make the language of their bodies more important. Moa's shoulders were awfully still. It was by design, if Ophelia guessed, but it might be impossible to know if the shorter girl had chosen this, or if she had been told. Maybe that would always be the question between them.

Hands tipped in the black of Kvell's eyes reached out for the remaining twin when she asked what she might do that was right, if that which she had done now bought her punishments. The hand stayed right by Ophelia's cheek without touching, swirling as though truly petting a cheek grown half an inch out of hers. No contact. The handshake would be mystifying, then. "You're doing everything right." she said, and looked up, what little bit there was, at Ophelia. Moa's shoulders dropped. A bit of giving up. The sigh had admiration though, the longing kind, but there was a vibrato when the breath was ending that could be few other things than frustration. "Did you have toys? Did they like being carried around, placed by other toys they might not like? Some of them slept in the darkness. As much as you love a toy, if you treat a person the way you treat you dearest toy, you would be a cruel person." Moa took her hand back and corrected her shoulders. "Would your toys ever be better, so good that you'd treat them like people?" Head to the side again, dark lips smiling as she took a step back from the frame. "Thank him when it hurts, moan when you're surprised by the next hurt." Some advice, finally? How could it be? She flicked her beak and turned. "I'll see you tomorrow." And she flew quickly.

Kvell held the phone for as long as Ophelia needed to accept that a day new day had come to her threshold. It was a good little show, of her mind loosing the clinging sleep. She took the phone with more haste than she had nursed the tart, yesterday. He tried to think nothing of it. A beloved sister of the home. He'd offered nothing that could rival that. If she looked over, as she disappeared into the safety of an elder's voice, she would see him smile gently, perhaps enjoying seeing her content. And so animated.

When she laid back he came forward a bit. It became a child's pastime. When she didn't look, he would take steps, and then stand still where he found himself when she turned his way again. It could be unsettling, frightening, even, but it could also be nothing at all. Sweet Ophelia, speaking with her guardian with light words when her body was written on and abused under cloth that wouldn't keep those events hidden. His knees on the bed, and then he didn't care if she saw him move or not. Carefully he crossed her ankles, and sat down on them, most of his weight still on his knees on either side, in the sheets. Enough of him on her to keep her legs from moving.

"Tell her I say Hi." he encouraged, rolling the hem of her gown, to see the small, falling stars that the roses had left. He was sure Ophelia was worried now, and moreso when he leaned down as the gown no longer covered her privacy, or the below curls. If she attempted to lay the phone down, that she'd taken so eagerly, his long arm would shoot up and keep it against her ear. It was quite forbidden to stop talking until he was done with her. Besides, wouldn't Netty be full of idle, by now? If she tried to hold his hand as he touched her stomach, two fingers tracing her navel and then down, he would just like it, but not stop because of it. As low as he was, with his head at the level of her untouched secret, some long breaths would find her garden. This was before his fingers did.

But that was too much fun, for both. The hand pinched, instead, perhaps to pitch the voice Netty was getting, towns away. He went about getting the gown up, taking away that flimsy filter for the art he'd done on her body. If he should have respected her mounds, he'd not heard such a rule. The rumpled up cloth was by her collarbones, soon, so that he could see the contract fully. He sat a little harder on her legs, and lightly backhanded the tattoo, framed in bruising. He wanted her sound, and then whatever explanation she would offer Netty for that sound.

Kvell had not gotten to enjoy the script as much as he'd wanted, being the initiator and artist, so he soothed it with fingertips first, following along as he whispered it's story, his own prayer, perhaps. With her legs crossed under him, he put the other hand atop the Y of her legs meeting her hips, as though to hold that part of her hostage. Which would she rather he pet, was the threat. It was a gentle massage on ribs that read the sentence she'd agreed on, but soon the touch would be deeper, awakening the nerves that had been in misery for a while, to let them throb with his visit. The more she moved, the harder the hand at the end of her torso pushed.

When he was sufficiently happy with reliving the joy of marking her, he lifted himself by digging his knees in, and turned her, belly down before he sat on her legs again. Surely the yelp would be lovely. And then he followed the paths of the lashings from yesterday. If he pushed at the beginning of a long velt, and dragged his digit through the mark, surely she would feel it. His hand did that, then, as though he was reading again, but blindly, and trying to find letters carved on her bones beneath the marks. He wanted her overwhelmed by the stimulation. He also wanted to coax her to cross over, and perhaps see something else in the pain.

Eventually one searching hand would touch the back of her neck, thumb rolling and palm pushing, to ignite the nerves that clad all of her head, so he could see if he could make them sing a psalm through her mind. Kvell leaned over her then, finally trusting her body to take his, fully. Daunting for her, to feel his entirely clothed self against her necked legs, spine and shoulder blades. Buried into the bed by him. And she wasn't allowed to lay down the phone.

The hand not controlling her neck was between her stomach and the sheets. It was the only purely affectionate participant, since there was nothing there that it could use to make her more miserable. His lips kissed her cheek as though to ready her. Then he nuzzled her shoulder and parted his mouth, a large mouth, so his teeth fit around that balled start of her arm. Slowly he closed around her, so she could feel the promise of the pressure from the weapons of his maw before they became a sauntering, hurting reality. Half-eaten heart.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 14, 2016, 08:27:43 pm
She was leery when Kvell began his approach, clutching the phone a bit closer. As if he might take it from her. His little game did not seem to amuse her so much as it amused him, a worried expression for what he had planned. Ophelia rolled onto her side, away from him. If he intended to come, he would come. She wanted to concentrate on Netty’s warm and familiar voice.

Ophelia’s lips read her small dread when he joined her on the bed and adjusted her to his liking. The big doe eyes asked for some sympathy he had no intention to offer. She just wanted this little peace and not to lie to the Sister that had been so much like a mother. Nonetheless, she was obedient and made an effort to keep her tone chipper. “Kvell says hello. I don’t know if the two of you have actually ever spoken, though.” She tried a laugh. Netty returned the salutation kindly, though she admitted she’d not had any more contact with the lord of Oleander Manor than the letter that had requested Ophelia’s presence.

“Why, Sister, here I was thinking you’d checked thoroughly into this arrangement. You sent me off without further word?” she teased. There was some real sense of injustice in it, though. She hoped Netty had not caught it. The Sister clucked and denied any oversight. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t always known from which family Ophelia had come. They weren’t so far away and the Oleander family was well-appointed. She’d simply not been allowed to tell. It might have been inconvenient to the modern nobility.

“Inconvenient? That’s a bit cruel, I think. But I’m glad it gave me a life with you and the other Sisters. You’re all so kind.” Ophelia said. Quick to forgive and forget, always. Less so, now, with Kvell. He had begun to train her this way, whether he intended it so or not. She was trembling before he touched her. “Oh, Netty, I’m so sorry but I need to—“ his hand on hers to stay the phone told her she was not to cut her conversation short. “—ah, never mind. I thought I needed to go, but, it’s fine. Don’t worry.” A tiny hike in the last syllable as her breath caught when his fingers danced.

An odd expression, somewhat torn. He wasn’t hurting her, and for that she was grateful. But then, this was its own misery. Uninvited, he explored the aching expanses of her skin and she was meant to hold this secret. Ophelia had never played such a game. She didn’t know these sorts of secrets or the way to hide one’s fluttering pulse. Her free hand curled and grabbed hard at the blankets, panic when he was too near. She squirmed, pressing her thighs as if she might shut out his ability to see her shame.

Netty was asking about life at the Manor. “It’s only been a few days, as I said, but it’s very different from the Home. I mean,” she took a deep breath when he pushed her little gown higher. Licked her lips and conjured fortitude. “it’s not a bad thing, though. Being different. Oh, the sweets here are divine. They are more luxurious than I knew was possible. So much sugar and cream, Sister you’d have scolded me if you’d seen how much I’ve eaten.”

His hand against her contrast was sharp and sudden and she jolted and let out a little cry. Body arched against that small insult, briefly. If it had been Ansa, the sensuality of that writhing protest would have been intentional. Perhaps Kvell wouldn’t have seen it from her as genuine as this.

Ansa was only honest when she was begging to die or drowning out the howling in her head with her own cries. At least, often enough, it had all been for him.

“No, no, I’m fine. I just…” Ophelia’s voice broke. His free hand against that warmth not even she’d explored. She reached for him, tugging at a sleeve. Please, I beg you, stop, it said. “I just stubbed my toe on the edge of my bed.” She lied weakly. She had the benefit of having been an honest child. Netty paused, but did not question it. He teased her shaking breath, pressing fingertips deep against the bruised words until she thought he meant to push her bones.

She twisted on the bed. No real attempt to escape; she understood when she was under his control. Just the hurt and the rising distress when he put weight against her softness. Simple, sweet girl, playing into his cycle and all its viciousness. There was too much heat blossoming. From pain and from that sinful ache he’d taught her in the labyrinth, tongue on her tongue. She was flushed when he turned her over and did not disappoint with her involuntary yelp. “I’m sorry, Sister, really. I’m fine. I’m just being clumsy. I was sleeping in late and I haven’t turned the lights on in my room. That’s all.” Nervous laughter. “I tripped because my toe hurt a bit more than I expected.” Miserable lie.

“Tell me about how the other are doing. Do they miss me?” she asked. Safety in letting Netty speak, instead of herself. Kvell would see her hand was shaking, holding the phone as she angled her lips away from it. Small gasps when he traced her angel-wing lashes, angry red on her back. Better not let Netty hear. It hurt, this possessiveness. She wanted to hate it, but found that emotion empty. This was not as frightening as yesterday had been, when he had been angry with her and she’d acquired the very wings. To not be frightening was comforting, even when it was under a new ache.

She was, perhaps, more receptive than either of them would have expected, when he laid himself over her and offered his lips to her cheek. It did not change the outcome. His mouth on the joint, she became extraordinarily still. As if he would snap closed like a bear trap if she gave in the slightest. “Ah, Netty, would you pray with me?”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 15, 2016, 09:10:14 pm
He became more of the wolf that he was when she held the phone closer. A spark in the black, almost enough to set fire to his hands and free her from that device, only because she was protecting it. But that would have been too small, too shortsighted. If prey clung to the tightrope, or marched, determined, into the saw-tooth trap, why should anyone stop them? He almost sang when he handled her, basking in her pliability. There'd been none of this with Ansa, no speaking when told to, no conflict between her desire and his own, where his triumphed. Unthinkable. Yet so natural with Ophelia.

The conversation, as it was revealed, was rather important. He felt as though the same gravity of subject would at least have earned his own mother and father - Ophelia’s too, he supposed – a hefty tantrum and then seething for a couple of days, from him. Ophelia forgave and offered gratitude back. If he had fangs, real ones, they would have grown when she tightened her legs to keep him out. He’d not test her strength, that wasn’t today’s sport, but he threw her a glance to say ‘oh, you’ve challenged me about this, now’. And how devastating that would be.

She went on to be the Ophelia he was craving, new to everything, without protectors on her responses. Sweet little victim, ready to act with the whims of his fingers. Her grasp on his sleeve, and the look she gave him, asking without a thought to forbid – it made him quite voracious for her. It was not even a flaw in him, anymore, was it? If she was this way, so delectably this way, and he had the nature of a person – dutiful or not – it was inevitable that he’d want to consume her. But it was her words that altered him, and the flavor of what he was starved for. She’d said a lie. A litte one, but a scab on her angel feathers, nonetheless. He clutched the contract harder. She continued the small deceit when she had to explain her ensuing nameless calls.

“Clever.” He rewarded, when she passed the responsibility over to the sister on the other side. Fingers that brought her pain came to pinch her gasping lips. Some kind of fixation he’d developed, from having petted her willing tongue. He could not completely empathize with the conversation if it was about someone missing someone else. He’d never been gone for long, and Ansa wasn’t so sweet to be that sentimental, at least not primarily. If there were such people that would miss and admit to missing, he knew he would have asked, too.

No protest when he blanketed her with himself. She changed her lay to fit better into him, even. Perhaps it was the sweet kiss. He was about to try her, plant his teeth through the skin so her blood would bloom onto his tongue, when she saved herself to an even worse fate, by asking the sister to join her in prayer. What an opportunity to test her. The teeth unclasped from her skin. Leave that shoulder be. “Yes. Pray.” And she could worry, if she wanted. She would not know him to readily agree to things that were conventionally pleasant for her.

He took himself back, out of her valleys and tops that connected well into him, and lifted her hips until he could set her knees down into the bed. With her backside raised and her head still in the pillows, to entertain Netty, she would of course look defenseless, mortified. If she struggled, he would offer a swift, aristocratic rap with the back of his hand on what he’d just raised. He would also remind her to keep praying, and in the same breath to also part her knees on the sheets to have better balance.

Kvell had a honed keeness in his fingers. His father, who had darker dreams for the boy than the tea room, had taken him, too young, to brothels and friend's houses until he was no longer foreign to the taste, texture and cadence of another body, burning in its own chemicals. First it was for exploration, then for sport, and at last for validation. The son of the familly that owned the mine did not want for carnal practice. Ophelia's secret, kept from herself, even, would stand little chance when his left hand tried her. The right hand, precious and strong, continued to deliver a painfull massage over her wings.

"Pray for your innosence. Pray for you purity." he said as he soaked himself in her, and reached down her spine to grab her too long hair, pulling, to weave the signals of her pleasure with the thrumming of her agony. When she got her hair back, he took her neck instead, pushing her face deeper into the pillow, to affect the rythm, if she still had one, of her prayer, and elevate her waist. He wanted to taint her words that she sent off. And he wanted to introduce her to this torn experience. "Louder." One hand would seducer her harder, and one hand would punish her worse.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 20, 2016, 05:33:50 pm
She breathed shallow, as if she were pained, but it was the roiling thrill that made her lungs ache. He was not so heavy to make her gasp so. Ophelia tasted fright before the first shaking exaltations of her God. There was some pleasure to this ruse and it made her feel dirty. She would pray more fervently for the purity of her soul. He had encouraged her, which lit her nerve endings with the desire to flee, but even his devilishness couldn't flaw her faith so deeply. Still, she knew to be worried which meant she was learning. Still, she would pray because she wished to be true. To Netty and to her soul. 
 
And she had to counter this dark well of new sensation he teased from her. As cruelly as he indulged her pain, he sought the pleasures she'd turned her back to for the safety of her purity. Relentless, this brother.
 
Pulled into the pose of his liking, Ophelia carried the candor of her prayers with only a small gasp. Small enough that Netty let it pass, whether the Sister noticed or not. Thus was the most sacrilegious prayer ever to pass those sweet pink lips. Head bowed, hips high. If she wished to balance her innocence in the space between her soft secret and her holy tongue, the former betrayed her.
 
Ophelia could not restrain the sob that broke her lips when he found her and all her hidden heat. Netty, on the other end of the line, stopped praying. She must have been concerned. "N-no, Sister, I am simply overcome w-with--" a gasp when he twisted and pulled at her long rose strands. It hurt. Everything hurt. And yet some awful part of her was singing with the novelty of it. He'd told her to savor the new for newness sake and take it, pain as pleasure. The way she'd sang in the labyrinth, knees buried in thorns and his lips on hers. "I have missed prayer in communion with the Sisters, Netty. That is all," halting excuses that must be becoming harder to believe.
 
If she'd not understood how to revel in the way he'd carved their contract, she was beginning to grasp it now. Ophelia feared for her heart. She didn't want to understand.
 
He played her unholy and she bit hard into her lip. Hard enough to make herself bleed. Perhaps Kvell would be proud. Ophelia struggled to pray dutifully, voice peaking when he commanded her louder. At some point, she dropped the phone. It couldn't be helped, placed in such a lewd position and her head buried so deeply into the pillows. Muffled at a distance, she heard Netty carry on their prayers. Sweet woman. Her cheeks burned. Tears for the pillow. She was terrified the Sister had heard her lies and the breaking pleasure beneath. She wondered if it were enough to send her to Hell. She prayed louder so her words would reach Netty and God. 
 
Ophelia’s little tears and shaking breath must have blemished the sanctity of her prayers. Whether the petitions for grace and forgiveness were then to her God or to Kvell was hard to say, caught tremulously between her faithful calling and a different music. Mewling sighs and cries and moans and whimpers. At some point God lost her voice to Kvell's religion. The prayers degraded and she gasped and begged him to stop. And not to stop. The small voice from the phone, discarded on the bed, stopped. “Ophelia?” She reached awkwardly with one hand, scrambling to pick it back up.

“I’m sorry, Sister, there’s a lot going on right now.” Guilt in her mouth. Guilt for the Sister’s ears. Netty was quiet.

“If it’s a bad time—“ Ophelia clutched the phone tight.

“No, no, it’s ok. I’m sorry. I’m here. It’s ok.” She stuttered. More silence on the line.

“My dear, I think it’s best you just call me back when you have the time. Keep your eyes on God, Ophelia. Lead others to God so that you may not, yourself, be lead astray.” Netty hung up the phone. Ophelia began to sob. And yet his fingers plucked chords that resonated through her core. She couldn’t hate this, as much as her heart ached and her shame burned.
 
He had demanded her voice. Louder he'd said, but he hadn't told her what to cry. She had no prayers to give now, dragged in gasping wails from her bleeding lips. "Sir, please," she said, but couldn't form a request. The pressure on her neck, where the welts from his belt cried protest against his palm. Her legs trembled. When it hurt the most, she felt everything he'd built overflow. It was good Netty had ended their call. Poor, hopeless angel. She’d not been trained to hide or restrain. A luxury for the pure of heart. If he’d thought she might have the fortitude to last this game, he had surely been wrong. If he’d aimed to teach her the core of sin, he’d succeeded. 
 
Trembling, she felt herself push against him. Horrid girl, asking for more. Ophelia would learn to hate herself. She was appalled by the way she'd blossomed so. A feeling she'd never experienced before but understood at a primitive level. Degrading and wonderful. Ophelia felt as if Ansa's ghost must be laughing at her. More tears, frustrated. "Please, please." She'd called like this before. Pretty music.   

Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 20, 2016, 10:01:28 pm
She lost her breath to the fingers that were reading her. Little innocent, little liar with gasps. It wasn't in her to run, and there was a certain candid in how she was not bound or linked, but still unmoving for him. He listened to her as he made her feel. Her pleas along with the sister were well made, at the base of it all, but her ability to perform them was becoming too genuine for the cadence found in churches. He lashed her with the free hand, across what was raised, and her shoulderblades, when she spoke lies into her conversation with her deity, so her heart would remember the swell he commanded inside her.

Her blood on the pillow. Spoken blood, red cloud when she breathed hard. He hummed with pleasure at the image. Bleed for him, and for another of her firsts. As she added tears to the thread-count, he saw the phone, finally out of her hands, saying prayers to the ceiling. For a few verses he closed his eyes and committed the notes of her distress to memory, convinced they were for him. What a delectable tone, and how much better when it broke. The hand wouldn't give her rest, and fanned the heat inside her, urged it on. He listened better when she wanted his mercy, but he didn't grant it, either. The Father, the brother. Perhaps that was the role of a taker of prayers. And who would want Ophelia to stop?

"She's found you out, sinner." he whispered when the nun stopped and demanded, and the girl had to continue to pretend into the phone. "Liar." he said, a little louder. It tasted like threads of cotton candy, over his tongue. He salted it for himself with more abuse onto her. "Little deceiver." Whether Netty heard or not, he couldn't know, but the phone was dead after that, upturned on the sheets, like some other poor body he'd had. The girl, left behind to her newest, blushing adventure and its dismay, cried, and it made her brother hungrier.

Then she begged the Sir to please. And he would. His head lowered, from taking in her bleeding lips and the pink strands attaching to them, to watch his hand, doing her body well, while making her soul confused. He was that demon then, looming behind her, Shadow Eye, waiting for the reward of her inevitable fall. As he stared at the playing fingers, when they weren't deep or circling, he felt the rock of her hips. It made him dizzy with accomplishment, and bothered with his own thirst.

He hurried now, with her urgency. Her price for abandon. His angel with demon's palled that he was going to drown in nectar. The other hand traveled her back again, palm pushing at every red feather of the wings another's name had earned her, until he could hook two fingers through her cut petal and on to her tongue. Her incomplete wishes would be disturbed now, unsaid but not unbreathed. He attended to her sensitive point, with the other hand. Ruthless pace.

"You're looking for something." he explained, voice above what volume she could muster. "And you're afraid to find it." Hand would deliver. "Go ahead, Ophelia. Let it take you." His permission to have the epitome her trembling was designed to reach. He even freed her mouth for it, but not without pressing where she'd bit herself on the way out. And to travel her over, he folded his body over hers, like some loving scythe, digging his teeth into her shoulder finally, and biting at the rush through the flesh, that she'd always bind her breaching pleasure with the hurt he gave. And he'd drink her until she was exhausted from the flash and ebb of rapture. The hand and teeth left her at the same time, in the same meandering manner.

Kvell looked down at the untidiness he'd made of the bed and her. His little bundle of a sister, in the aftermath of pleasure's reckoning. Surely her own body must have been angry at her too, for having denied it, forgotten it. He drew three digits over his mouth, to lead her blood back from his cheek, and eat it with the salt of her secret. Both elixirs were still on his maw when he swallowed. On his knees, behind her, towering - carnivore over carcass. Beautiful, rose-stranded, spent carcass.

"Did you prayers come true, sister dear?" he asked, hand he wasn't eating from stroking her spine possessively. "You can pray to me all you want, I'll listen." he said into the cage of his fingers, finally starting to be cleaned of her flavor by the scraping of his tongue. "Won't you come and confess sometime, too." Was this too cruel? Not the sudden introduction to her burning humanity, but this, the way he eclipsed what she'd grown up under. He stroked her temple, until the hairs on the blood of her mouth gathered behind her ear, so he could see her fully, blushing in what had happened, or pale for the same reason. Such releases could be horror, too. Whichever, she would be deadly lovely.

It was a luxurious thing, for him to be fully dressed, and her to be entirely not. He'd had this contrast before, and found it to his taste. Kvell stood from the bed and went to her head, where he kissed her forehead tenderly. "Sometimes, at Oleander, you cut yourself on roses until there are marks on your bones. Sometimes there's honey blueberry tarts." His tongue came out to press flat against her cheek and wash the cheekbone in one, fat stroke. Next he spoke through his grin, against her pretty features, cooling the lacquer he'd just painted onto her burning. "And sometimes we're wretched until you adore it."

Another kiss, for pity, and then he stood. Aristocrat, correcting his clothes as he looked over his newest ornament. His touch ran along her body as he left. The door wouldn't even close all the way. When she went out into the corridors, after whatever rest she needed, if she went to look for him among the animals that were lined up but wouldn't answer her, there would be a familiar bird to speak to, and Sparrow Moa would ask her, with some disbelief in her beak, if it was true, about what had happened. If Ophelia wanted, she would be taken to Kvell, who would be in the middle of the floor in the antique library, legs across a footstool and reclined into a grand armchair, as though they'd not shared something engulfing. Or Ophelia could ask to run, and Sparrow would take her to the garden, and tell her how to get passed, in the back, to the gates.

But the gates would be locked and Sparrow would be gone.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 24, 2016, 06:28:45 am
She was an odd sort of numb when he pet her back. Ophelia wondered if it meant she had performed as he wanted. She still didn't know what pleased him. She had thought he was happy with her, after the garden maze, and yet the spine he was petting was still raw from how he'd punished her.

He mocked her faith and she had nothing to say. Her own behavior had been a mockery of her religion. There was no piety in her. Ophelia was betrayed by her body. She hadn't known that was possible. She was crying, but softly, and the little pearly sorrow was bewilderment as much as it was disgust with herself. It was not, however, regret. That should have frightened her.

When he tucked the hair from where it had obscured her face, she did not look at him. She would not have seen him well if she had tried, anyway. Her cheeks were flushed in the tell he was coming to know. A charming dance on her fair skin, writing her secrets in rose petals that spidered coyly when she wished it least. Her pout was not so pleased, but equally as sweet.

Ophelia was still when he kissed her. It was, in part, because she knew better than to deny him anything. It was also because she was unsure she could. Warm, lulling exhaustion. The tempting aftermath of pleasure. The little death and its afterlife. He was telling her something, like a lesson, and she blinked foggily. It was all pleasure to him. Frightening. A little seething guilt told her she was as much a sinner.

Frozen, a garden rabbit caught in the beam of his flashlight. She was a motionless doll on the bed as he left her. When the door was closed and she had lost count of her breath and her heartbeat she rolled slowly onto her back. It hurt. She didn't wince, though. Somehow, it was a little pleasant. She didn't think too much of it. She didn't want to. When the muscles have been pushed, they protest and then relent to growing stronger. That ache could be come addictive.

Ophelia stared at the canopy of the bed for a while, dark eyes clear. She felt as if she'd come up from being submerged in a warm bath. She wanted to repent for the terrible pleasure but found herself unable to form the whisper of a prayer. She had given what goodness she had to Netty and fallen short. Sister Netty would surely never breath a word of their conversation to the others, but it hardly mattered. Ophelia felt her stomach twist with the shame of it. She reached a palm heavenward, staring between her spread fingertips. A long sigh.

She slept for several hours. A mid morning nap that carried her past lunch and into the afternoon. It was dreamless, so far as she could figure, when she woke. Oleander Manor was silent, as always. Ophelia wondered if Ansa's room had been placed in seclusion for that deeper quiet. Ophelia found it unsettling, herself. The Home was never quiet.

Ophelia picked a dress from Ansa's wardrobe. Most of the clothes had been lacy sweet in shades of the sky from dawn till dusk. In the back of the closet, she found a frock in black. Round with lace and ruffle, she tied herself up like a Gothic doll. Velvet collar, high on her throat, a pewter broach fashioned after a bird skull, silk black ribbon strung through delicate eyelets to bind her up like a ballerina shoe. She was glad to slip out of the room barefoot.

In the hall, the servants were ominous, but familiar. She didn't know what to find frightening or comforting in this place, anymore. Moa found her, and she was grateful until the girl asked about what Ophelia herself wished weren't true. She didn't answer, but the demure turn of cheek and the way her eyelashes fluttered over her shamefully pink complexion would be answer enough.

She asked where Kvell was but didn't ask to be taken. Instead, she asked to be taken outside. Not to run away, but because she wanted to be alone when she went running to. "Moa, I haven't seen Mr. Brandston today. I haven't gotten him in trouble, have I?" she paused, because lying was new to her. Not that she hadn't been quickly gaining practice. "I want to apologize to him." She said. Really, she needed a little kindness of a more traditional kind and Nathan was where her instinct turned.

Ophelia felt her heart clench a little when she said it. Somehow it seemed like she'd be doing Kvell wrong and that  was terrifying. She realized, too, she didn't want to hurt him. He was her brother, after all, no matter how twisted and surreal it seemed. "Actually, forget I asked. I think I'd just like to sit outside." A faint smile. Her long hair was still tousled from the morning and she ran her fingers through it awkwardly. What a pretty thing to look lovely in disarray.

When she was lead to the garden, she found a white gazebo and swing with a picturesque view of the maze that had been her purgatory just yesterday. She settled there to watch the birds. Ansa's ghost in black velvet; a strange sight from the Manor windows for anyone to see.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 24, 2016, 03:12:41 pm
Sparrow didn't wear the hard of the other animals on her shoulders. Her pattern of movement was friendlier, both to Ophelia and herself. The lingering tips of her toes when she stepped brought to mind a bit of whimsy, entertaining herself as she made her way. All visible under practiced strict. Moa didn't seem pleased with the pink of Ophelia's face. Really, what had the bird expected? She stood close to the only twin, by her side, and listened to her question. The two might seem familiar, then.

"Would you prefer he stayed outside the door diligently, listening to the activities this morning?" A bit tart, from the little bird. Ophelia could find that kind of reply aggressive, but without any real punishment to follow, perhaps it was banter. "Because I'm not sure you should express such sentiment to either of them. Makes you seem immodest." With her lighter tone, whips at the ends of words, she must be joking, now. A little hand with black paint, perfectly applied, showed the way when she wished for the garden.

"He was with us in the dancing hall, helping to prepare your breakfast. Sir Kvell wanted you to have a day free of troubles, I think, so our dear rooster didn't feel the need to come along to get you when the phone rang. Imagine his worry when you never showed, and Kvell walked about so satisfied you'd think he ate you." Sparrow gossiped. She laughed a little as the corridors passed. A row of windows had a door between them, and it opened through some flowers pushing at the wall, outside. She held it open for Ophelia to pass, but pushed her a bit when she had the chance. An impatient or jestful person. "You're not Ansa." Sparrow said to herself, eyeing the blacker doll before closing.

The other bird, that she had asked for, touched the rope of her swing when he'd announced his arrival with clear taps of his boot, beckoning the acoustic of the gazebo floor. There was a jacket over his left arm, for her by the size of the sleeves, and he hung it over the bench to her side before he commenced pushing her back and forth slowly. "The Sir didn't hurt me." he said, following a path in the labyrinth with his eyes, where the statue of Ansa was still wearing a bonnet. Today the mask covered more of his cheeks, ending at the corners of his mouth. Nathan would definitely have appeared to Ophelia as someone who would lie a lot to do a little good.

"I am sorry he is the way he is with you." Complete honesty. What could be more true. Bought at a low price, though, and barely worth offering so long after the fact. Perhaps the butler did not like that he'd been so careless this morning. Perhaps he hated himself a great deal for it. If it was in his voice, it was made clearer by his efforts to quell it. "His childhood, you see, and the family way, it was brought to a point in the Sir and..." a ramble, uprooted and thrown. Nathan would also definitely have appeared as one to save others from his needless venting. The swing and the ropes made their sounds as he took composure. "I don't know what to say. But it would be a greater tragedy if no one apologize to you."

He was prolific at this. The ropes weren't new. She wouldn't feel his touch much when he pushed. It was a gentleman's task to play on swings. With a wind that was barely there, it should be pleasant for her. Magically he knew where his fingers could be without upsetting what Kvell had left. In this quiet, what did he think of? If he somehow gave clue, it was this morning, and why he felt so regretful. Would he simply have liked to see it? "I will try to be you ally, Ophelia Oleander." he promised. Tenderly he slowed her momentum until it was spent, and spun her instead, with a push. When the swing came to a stop, ready to untangle itself in reverse, she saw him sitting on the bench, one leg over the other. As dignified, but not so formal.

"Less than a month left." A smile beneath the leather. He didn't stop her when the ropes corrected. She would come to a stop eventually, and look at him again. "How do you do, Ophelia?" he asked, offering to listen to anything, head inclining the other way. A pity for her that he hadn't come across her in life, without the Sir. He had every potential to be the kindness Kvell had no desire to give. And there was the contrast then. A sliver of light for her, in the night ocean of her brother.

That night stood with with wine by one of the windows. This room she'd not seen. Kvell had a book pressed to his side with the glass arm as he watched Nathan with the tousled rose strands. He thought it looked fulfilling, speaking calmly and socializing outside in the evening. The wine to his mouth. It was to be that kind of night. He flicked the rim of the glass, where a fat, dark pearl had escaped his lips. There was a ring to fill the room, awakening Ansa's sounds for his memory, as the tone hit all the contraptions.

He still remembered the texture of her shoulder in the teeth that pressed when he swallowed the grape blood. Biting at nothing, he tried the muscles that held his jaw in place. He could have looked lonely the way forgotten idols are lonely and overgrown - with weeds, with lack of belief - if he wasn't such a latent threat, always, visibly. The dollmaker that was his artist had seen fit to make him remarkable, formidable, with serrated hooks in his spirit, without considering that it would make his creation lonely. Or apart. He did not seem like a sad thing. But alone, he couldn't be a completely satisfied thing, either.

Kvell placed the foot of the glass on his shoulder, and parted the book with one hand. If mother was here she would have had him wear the literature on his head, as well. He'd hated that practice until his posture was fine enough that he didn't notice. This story was inspiring. A boy who hunted a girl like a dragon hunted blue blood. There was a prince in the way, of course, and now, with the conclusion looming, it seemed the writer wanted to convince the prince would not win. He thought about his own blood, that it wasn't royal, but that it would be, if his life was written. Without a doubt, he would be the dragon too.

"Would a dragon let the rooster prince frolic with the peasant princess, though." he asked the ink before reaching for his glass again.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on July 28, 2016, 06:26:31 am
Ophelia had not responded much to Moa’s teasing, if it was teasing. She had, instead, remained sullen most of the trip to the garden. When the bird had suggested she’d have wanted Nathan to listen, Ophelia had nearly tripped over herself. They weren’t the sort of jokes made at the Home. Everyone was presumed quite innocent. Not so, here, she saw.

Certainly, she was not Ansa.

On the little swing, her toes brushed the wood floor of the gazebo. A comfortable roughness that felt like childhood. She pushed off for a languid pace. When Nathan came, she wondered if Moa had gone for him, or if he were simply the kind of servant that knew precisely where he was needed most. Neither truth would have surprised her.

It was not terribly cool out, but she took the jacket he put by her. The heaviness of fabric could be comforting, even when the warmth was unnecessary. The butler picked up the rhythmic sway of her swing. She didn’t complain. Ophelia pouted a little, when he lied. She’d seen the bruise forming, yesterday. “Not more, perhaps.” She replied. “I should hope not more. At least, not on my account.” If the rooster was one to lie for another’s peace, Ophelia was one to dull her own pains with concern for another. A bit sweet, that she’d fret more for his cheek than her wing-lashed back.

She flinched, though, when he apologized. Did he know about the morning, the way the rest of the staff seemed to? Was he sorry for that also? Kvell had found so many ways to hurt her in such little time. An older heart would have broken, brittle. The Oleander prince was fortunate his plaything was so soft and green.

“I don’t know if it would be a tragedy. I think apologies are supposed to come for things you don’t deserve.” She was quiet for a while, thoughts punctuated by the creek of the rope. “I don’t know what I deserve.” Ophelia cast a glance over her shoulder. “You didn’t deserve any trouble for my mistake. That much, I know. So, I’m sorry, again.” She sighed.

He had excused Kvell by virtue of his childhood. The one she’d not been part of. A denied birthright she might have reason to be grateful for, it seemed. But then, she was ill prepared for the appetite of her brother, now. “I think I’m wrong for this.” She said. “He and Ansa shared a heart, maybe. I don’t know it. Their heart.” Ophelia confided it as if she were truly regretful for it. Perhaps she was, if only because it might have preserved her soul a bit.

She found his hands skillful, pushing where it didn’t hurt as if he’d memorized the patterns of red on her back, and it was comforting. She leaned into his palms and the swing flew a bit higher. Small smile. Her ally, he said. “I grew up thinking to join the convent, you know. To be like the Sisters that raised me.” She told him. “God has always been my ally.” One hand on the rope, curling tighter when he spun her.

“Even if I go back, after this. I don’t know if I could ever go to the convent. I’d be ashamed.” She said. If he hadn’t known how true the rumors of the day were, he must have gotten some confirmation then. Perhaps, by Kvell’s reckoning, the grievance wasn’t so great. Ophelia, for her part, mourned the entirety of her purity. “I have a last name, now, and memories that will go with it. They won’t be suited for the Sisters.”

She blinked at him when the twirling swing hovered before the unwind. The smile she gave him was an odd sort of sad. Like she was saying goodbye to something. “I have sinned deeply. I don’t know to which god I was praying.” Ophelia, new Lady of Oleander. “And I didn’t hate it.” Her face read plain. Conflicted thing, frozen between fight and flight. Or pleasure and fear. “Then, maybe you are my only ally now.”

He tried to encourage her with the dwindling time and she gave him a better smile for the effort. She didn’t tell him that she was afraid of the end. It hadn’t even been a week and she felt lost. Surely she’d be utterly corrupt by the conclusion of their contract. Kvell seemed to be intent on it. Ophelia shook her head when he asked.

“I don’t know, Mr. Brandston. I don’t know myself right now, let alone how I’m doing.” Weak laughter, still pretty. “I feel like I should hate him, but I don’t. I can’t. In fact I—“ she shook her head again. “Does that make me a good sister or a bad person?” The swing had unwound itself and bobbled a bit. She stared at him with the same wide eyes that begged Kvell to take advantage. She was so very open to suggestion. The rooster might sympathize with any lack of restraint the Master had shown. She was too simple to possess.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on July 28, 2016, 06:14:07 pm
His earnest efforts to spare her from the pain of his own bruise, both with the larger mask and the insistence Kvell had done nothing, failed. “He didn’t.” he added, then, for truth’s sake. Because Kvell had never been vindictive with Nathan in their adult life. Growing up, perhaps, the way boys seek out vengeance to stay ontop. Nathan had also fought Kvell for no reason, struggling with his lot in life before he saw it as something he would like to do. Tradition, dignity, loyalty, all that. Redundant to the onlooker, but the sir had not deemed the friendship with the other boy as anything but equal. It was not friendship that dressed the butler up in leather masks, though, but it was loyalty that kept it on. So Ophelia was right to hope. There had been no return for continued battering after the first strike.

Nathan did not flinch after she did. He prided himself on composure. But he wanted to. That reaction came from his spine but he roped it in. His hands became stiffer as he delivered her pace, though. Did she not see the way she broke dark hearts with her tenderness? Someone needed to shelter her from the darkness her light attracted. He’d not felt this protective of Ansa. Ansa had been a friend, but Nathan believed he owed something to Ophelia, when she was this level of innocent. She apologized again, and he wanted to give it back, but what kind of exchange would that be? Endless wreath of apologies where there was nothing for her, in the end. She looked back at him and all he could offer was a bit of somber in the framed eyes for her predicament, and a sentiment that there was no reason for her to be sorry for anything.

One heart, the two siblings who had known each other. “It would not have looked it from the outside.” Kvell’s hungers, Ansa’s blood. She had more fire than the brother ever had, but she was contagious. The brother was her symptom. She would have shredded herself in the labyrinth, and Kvell did not let her. Perhaps it was Kvell that had been taken by surprise with Ophelias arrival, if he’d expected some lava, beautiful madness, and gotten this well arranged bouquet of this quaint lovely, and that laid plain vulnerability. If Kvell could also be contagious, in himself, then perhaps Nathan was susceptible, because he fully understood why Ophelia was honey.

He was happy when she inclined herself into the rhythm, and made sure she was safe when he raised her arc through the Oleander air. He wanted to give a good moment. His hope dissolved bitterly when she spoke of returning to the home, and how unwelcome she would be, inside herself. Sparrow had explained what happened. Crass little twitter. It was hard to believe, and he shouldn’t, because gossip was like a substance to many in this place, but part of him saw what he’d been told. She’d prayed into her pleasure, at Kvell’s mercy and the mercy of her own throes. With Ansa, this had not been anything, but since it happened to Ophelia, he felt guilty for believing Kvell could have let her be for just one morning. ”There is forgiveness outside of Oleander, Ophelia.” He reminded. Surely, they’d want her back. Surely, he would not forgive Kvell if she couldn’t go, herself.

Then, a confession in revelations, as the ropes were turned and then not. It made the imagery severe in his head, as her hair, wild from abuse, skirted outside the spinning dress she wore. This angel had been born with chains to the Oleander monster. She had all the mercy for her brother and none for herself. He wanted to know what had transpired. Sparrow could only have heard, not seen. Of course the tell-tale had been whatever was the most scandalous. If he asked her, she might commit a greater pain to herself than she was really willing, to explain. How would he ask it? Excuse me, Innocent, how exactly do you feel Kvell taught you to abandon virtue? Ophelia, how did you lose grace, in detail? “You didn’t hate it.” He couldn’t help but echo. This kind of thing became her troubles. If Kvell had heard this, he would do more. It made Nathan want to do his own abuse, as well. But he was her ally. He had that role.

He indulged the other, darker, when she looked at him like that. She wouldn’t know better. Maybe she was not fixed to Kvell the way Ansa was. It could only ever had been that life or Ansa’s death. With Ophelia, if she was taken from here, she could be something else. Kvell hadn’t stirred her too deeply, couldn’t have, yet. What if Nathan stole her away? He could teach her to look for her own heart, a heart that her bother couldn’t whip and strangle into wanting what she didn’t. He could save her and those big eyes. In fact you what, Ophelia? He wanted to demand when she took out the end. The butler might not want to hear it.

“You are the best kind of person.” He assured her. Right now it was true. But she was not intended to remain with so many possibilities.

Nathan sighed, and didn’t know he was being corrupted, as well. How was a flower in dark water a poison? Nathan loved Kvell also, so what did he call this lingering thread in that bond, when he looked at Ophelia? Larceny, in his heart. “Try harder to hate him.” A gray cloud in his chest. It was such satisfaction saying this. Release in sin. He’d never betrayed anyone so. It was for her sake. “You contract doesn’t mention that you should be a good sister, or give him any of your heart.” But there was the part about it being eaten. “if you try with your pious…” but it wasn’t anymore, was it? It had been cast in doubt. Kvell should not paint himself as that kind of lord. Nathan should not want that position either, the way he did. “rather, fortified soul, you could hate him for what he does. And then you will be strong enough to leave with enough wealth to dress The Home in gold. Let Oleander be your test, and then you’ll be triumphant.”

He came to her, the doll in the jacket he’d brought, and took one of her hands from the swing’s ropes, so her fingers were between his. She held where Ansa had, and there were scuffs there. He laid his hand as a blanket on hers, also. “Next time you call for me I’ll come.” He promised. Loyalty shouldn’t run soul-deep. Ansa had always been deeply in to Kvell, her destiny was in her brother’s hands because they loved so furiously. But he could steer Ophelia away from that. It was a crime already that she did not entirely loathe what had been done to her. When he sent the invitation that had this orphan here, his guilt had sprouted. Now it was solid and healthy, looking at the swaying doll, holding her.

A door from the dance hall opened. When it swung the glass shattered. Kvell, with a bottle in one hand, came out, and foolhardily jumped onto the grass from the stone. He landed well, but the roll he was forced to take to rid of momentum left his hair in distress, too, and it fell in one eye. A finger came out from around the neck of the wine to point at Nathan. The black eyes that saw them were not fogged, but a juvenile blush had come to the platform cheekbones. “Oh, I’ve read this book.” He said when he was close enough for audience. In truth, he was the kind of affected that left him thinking he was not. Not a stupor, but not himself. Kvell came closer, his steady a testament to his breeding and upbringing. He could have shot the wine into his veins and he would still walk straight. Well on the floor with them, he placed the bottle on his shoulder, as he had the glass, and stood steady, still. A trick, a performance. “But I don’t think Ophelia likes those books anymore, between Dukes and peasant woman. Willful lass and brooding duke, reconciling over passion in the end.” Grocery novels, as though they weren’t anyone’s vice. After all, Kvell could act like he was fair, but he was possessive. There were only so many gulps of aged red he could take while seeing the conversation that now had culminated in such resolved handholding. But the strange thing was that Nathan looked at the sir without letting go. At least this much should be allowed.

“Sir. You’ve been reading and indulging again.” Nathan tried, alert. A small step to put himself further between the siblings, both of his hands occupied with one of hers.

“Her stories are of a more hedonistic nature now.” Kvell continued without listening. He bent his legs until his eyes were level with hers, bottle still vertical on him. “Didn’t I make it so, beautiful sister?” he asked and reached toward her cheek, so the blade of one finger could draw on the mouth that had prayed into the tear-salted pillow. “Oh. These lips are pretty too. But they are not as honest.” He said, steady, before sliding the hand over her neck and onto the shoulder he’d bit when she’d trembled. Nathan saw it fit to put the sole of his shoe to Kvell’s side. A shove. It was enough to topple the wine and it’s patron.

Kvell’s cheek wrinkled, where he’d been put sitting, and a nightmare folded the skin on his nose, as he looked up with inhuman bloodthirst at the butler. The wine that wasn’t a layer on the wood spiraled inside him, and quenched the primal thing that wanted to rave. “Sorry, duke. Communion makes me speak my mind.” Out of the shards and their red lake, the lord stood and bent again, eyes on the man holding her hand as he took her beautiful hair in one palm, turned her toward him and kissed her as violently as he had in the maze. The eyes behind the rooster mask grew wide with rebellion, but all he could do was hold her hand harder. Kvell broke from the kiss, having painted her face in it, and inhaled as though she’d given him something in that deep taste. Her swing tried to move her, but she was already held still by Nathan. “She likes holding your hands and she likes eating my kiss.” He said, the wrath putting fire to the alcohol in him and baking his mind in the fumes. Perhaps stupor, at last. “I love you even though you betray me.” He whispered into her ear, and it was earnest, because he felt both love and betrayal, then, speaking through fangs. He wondered if that would hurt her most, out of his little scene.

Hands in the his jacket pockets. A dapper, broad-backed image of the after-party drunkard, off to another soirée.

“He’s a spoiled bastard.” When in fact Kvell Oleander was pure bred, gold in his bones. Surely the sentiment was other. “I am so sorry.” Nathan said and let her have the hand back, finally. It was more evident, then, that the two men were friends and not always simply master and servant. Nathan threw a quick eye at the puddle and then sighed, letting go of some of the intent that built up during the sir’s visit. “Do you wish to stay?” he asked, poise returned. If she did not, he would walk her back to her room. “He’s not lived our lives.” A father about his rampaging offspring, or an owner about his dog. Was the implication that the raised butler had lived a life outside the manor? “But he should have more sense than this.”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on August 03, 2016, 05:26:19 am
Ophelia was easily enchanted. She had to have been, to hold some dearness for her brother and his twisted affection. It wasn’t hard to see, rather, it was hard to miss the way her lips parted in consideration of the could-have-been prince that was, in this life, the Oleander butler. He’d see that daydream play plain and brief across her features. They’d bump into one another when she was on her way to the bank. She would stumble and, looking up at him and squinting in the sunlight, he’d hold her hand like this to help her up. It would be a different kind of fate with a happier ending. Or a cleaner one. Something she could tell the Sisters when she returned home, glowing.

There was reserve behind the fantasy. Tethers locked by the Lord of the manor and carefully scripted across her still-tender ribs. Her blushing, writhing, gasping whimpers from the morning. Ophelia smiled at him and there was a little wistfulness there. It was apparent, though, that she knew to whom she belonged and hadn’t the heart to question it. Perhaps it was in the name of survival; she had the better stretch of the month left to endure. But, maybe, she was Ansa’s twin at her soul.

That mouth that suggested alternate roads her heart could’ve taken rounded, surprised. She’d expected encouragement, but the sort that begged her sympathy for Sir Kvell. Not this. “If Oleander is a test, I’ve already failed it, I think.” She said quietly. “I don’t know myself as well as I thought I did, I guess. But I think I know when I’m being overwhelmed.” She shook her head. That was it, then. She could wallow in her sin and cry over her fall from grace but she was in Kvell’s tide and there was no shore. The rooster might disagree, but it was all gulls over her drowning and the promise a rocky beach with no shelter.

“As for my heart,” she paused and brought her free hand over the beating muscle. “I don’t know if it matters what I give, only what’s taken. It’s confusing, what’s me and mine.” She admitted. “I don’t love him, but I do feel. And it isn’t hate. It simply isn’t. Can’t be. I don’t know why.” Nathan promised he would come when she called and she gave him a pretty smile for the offer. It was a sweet comfort she’d not indulge. He must have known when he said it. She didn’t want to see Kvell punish Nathan, because Nathan hadn’t done anything wrong. Better the lonely prince keep his hands on Ophelia, who knew her sin for finding pleasure in it. 

Whatever peace had settled over the princess and the rooster shattered with the glass in the door. Tedious repose cracked and split, she moved to pull her hand free from his but found him steadfast. Her pulse quickened with Kvell’s stride. Pitiful the way she was absorbed at an instant, caught up in the frightening elegance with which he prowled toward them. A capable man. She was afraid of what he would do when he reached them and afraid of what he wouldn’t.

It was a violent tone, only, that struck her, and there was Nathan to place himself between them. She was frozen in that exchange. Wine on Kvell’s lips and venom on his tongue. Ophelia wanted to speak up but found Nathan giving the Master words, instead. Boldness, not unlike what she’d seen before, but less humility. If her God were still willing to take her prayers, she offered a silent one on behalf of both men for civility and the patience of their mutual respect. There had been that much between them, she was sure.

Kvell took her stare, eclipsing her world with his handsomely hungry face. Her lips to his fingertips as if he’d asked for them again. Some enchantment born out of fear of retribution and desire for his touch. Had she wanted this kind of electric just yesterday? She supposed it had sparked in the garden briars, nurtured with every innocence he took from her. Ophelia had been such a little bud when she’d arrived, with potential to blood into something crafted under his hand. Less wild than Ansa. More eager to be tamed. If the rooster saw it, he’d understand why she was so sure she’d be swallowed up. It was pathetic that so much of their contract remained to train her in this new gospel.

Ophelia gasped. “What are you doing?” she chirped as Kvell toppled. She reached to grab at Nathan’s sleeve with her free hand, tugging as if to alert him to what had just transpired. Didn’t he know? Ophelia’s punishment was to be made to sin and for her sins she was made to sin again. The alternative had starred red wings across her soft back. There was a price, always, and she was terrified it might be higher now.

But Kvell was back on his feet and forming her world, again, this time with his hand in her hair. His lips were familiar, this time. The bitter of his wine on her tongue as she leaned into him, capitulating to the way it made her sing and tremble at once. It was awful and wonderful, a torment just as it had been before, and she felt dirty when she realized she was somehow relieved that he would still touch her. She felt Nathan’s grip tighten on her hand and wondered who it was she felt she was betraying, beside herself.

Ophelia was gasping when he pulled away from her and would have toppled forward had the butler not had both the girl and the swing held fast. He told her who she’d betrayed, if she hadn’t decided for herself, and she recoiled as if she’d been slapped. A little sob when he stalked off. When Nathan released her hand she snatched it to her chest and held it there with the other, like she’d been burned. “Please don’t apologize to me. I’m a wicked, terrible woman.” She insisted, ever quick to tears. “It doesn’t matter if he’s spoiled or not, I was wrong to meet you. I said I wouldn’t.”

She tottered off the swing, rubbing at her eyes with her fists in frustration. “I should be the one apologizing. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She hiccupped and looked at him with her flushed cheeks and glistening eyes. “You make me feel safe, Mr. Brandston, I’m sorry.” She sobbed. It was worse, she thought, that he was so composed. “I want to go to my room.”

Ophelia felt it was she that was the spoiled one, with the gentle way he led her back to her room. She’d been terrible to hope for him and worse to tell him her worries. Ophelia wasn’t meant to have this sweet prince. If she were, there would not have been a Moa provided. She was not astute in social minutia but that much had been apparent. She had been wrong to entertain it, too. Kvell hadn’t been wrong. She was the worst. There were attempts at comfort offered and she would have been compelled to ask about his life outside of Kvell had Kvell not been the whirling black hole at the center of her guilty spiral, at that moment. Instead, she just shook her head. Nathan should be blaming her. She’d been wrong. Wouldn’t he have asked her to be kinder but two days ago?

At the door to Ansa’s room, she was possessed by some great urgency. “Would you tell Kvell I’m sorry?” she begged him, both hands reaching to ball the fabric on the front of his shirt. “Will you tell him I want to see him, if he’s willing to come?” she asked. As if she were in any place to invite her brother to dance. Nathan would know it could only be a pitiful show if he complied. Perhaps Ophelia knew it too. She might even have understood what she was inviting. Still, her request was in such earnest. “I—I don’t want him to hate me.” She blurted. “I’m scared that I keep messing up.”

Regardless of whether or not the butler complied with her request, she would allow herself to be ushered into her room, where she’d collapse on her bed no sooner than she’d been left alone. It was not so very late in the evening, and she’d taken quite the nap, but she was quick to exhaust herself as she fidgeted on the bed. Kvell held her in her bareness when he’d stripped away her perceptions of her innocence. It was frightening to her that she might have hurt him. What was she to do if he cast her aside now? Not matter what Nathan said, going back to the Home seemed unreasonable. Her heart wouldn’t bear it.

At some point, she fell asleep still dressed in her day clothes and rumpled in a sad little heap on her bed. In her stupor, she might not have cared who it was that might come to her room. Only that there would be someone to apologize to with offerings of whatever submission she had to give. Ophelia was certain she had wronged both men and deserved, herself, to be punished for it. In the addle of her dreams, she told herself it was best to stop having ideas. She rolled in her sleep, dark skirts riding high on her legs. There weren’t bruises there, but a wealth of little cuts from the garden’s thorny kisses. She did better wearing those insults than she realized.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on August 03, 2016, 06:22:37 pm
Nathan had seen her overwhelmed. He wished she wasn’t. He wished it bitterly and deeply. Did she know the face she wore when she spoke of Kvell? Abandon, fear, reverence. Like some dark deity that she was locked into. When that titan came, whirling with vintage refreshment, Nathan felt further bitter, because he didn’t want Ophelia to be so far gone into Kvell. As a child, growing up alongside the sir, he’d not envied the toys or the attention. Or now, with the endless riches pulled out of earth itself. But something like Ophelia. It made him sad about himself, to feel like this, but that only stressed the truth of it. Had sympathy tinted to this?

He was darkened into heavy somber, when she first took his sleeve to protect Kvell. It was worse when she was kissed by the Oleander son, because she took to it fully. His own tongue was secured with training, when Kvell was done with this possessive play. In his wake, Nathan could only give her what she asked for, this creature he’d been given as ward, and nothing else. He didn’t like how much it lifted him to be her safety. So he walked his sure steps through the mansion by her side, quietly dying when he replayed her lips and their compliance to Kvell’s. The little doll on her swing, played with.

The butler gasped when he expected a collected goodnight, perhaps stifled by his duty and her gravity, and instead there was her body to his, his shirt in her fingers. She’d held her own heart sitting on the swing, saying she didn’t feel love for their common ruler, but now she was holding his, asking him to deliver a message, if not one of love then at least its skinbourne reflection, knowing Kvell and his tastes, to the same demon. Could she feel then that it grew a few cracks, underneath her fingers, his heart? He was surprised enough to be quiet, but not so dumbfounded he didn’t react. He shook his head. “W-why?” he managed. Wasn’t it a blessing if Kvell hated her? If she couldn’t return such animosity, surely she could nurture it in her tormentor? But the butler couldn’t deny her. It would have been a particular betrayal to Kvell, too. “I won’t lock you door then.” And then he touched her shoulder when he really wanted to cup her cheek. He didn’t know he was touching, through the fabric of her black dress, the circle of marks Kvell’s teeth had left when he’d drawn pleasure out of her. Nathan went to fuss after he closed the door, but eventually knew he’d have to communicate what she’d asked him to.

It was a rooster that came to open the door again, finally. It was wearing a carved bottle on its shoulder. The elixir’s name meant water. Finest industrial kiss, muted and filtered many times. The mask had been acquired through violence, and its cheek was split. It was a becoming wound on the leather even though it spelled out Nathan’s discomfort all too clearly. The butler was forced to sleep on the floor of the library, with a crunch and a thud, after finding Kvell, delivering the invitation, and asking the spoiled, inebriated darkness not to go. When Brandston refused to part with the rooster’s face, Kvell was swift in his chemical lull.

He sat there by her now, steady, despite the clear wyvern racing with the red snake in his blood. He would not be a king of Oleander if he couldn’t still dance and skip while intoxicated. Wit, always. The bottle on her nightstand. Her scratched legs called for punishment with the dress worn high. Two knuckles over her offered thigh, gliding over to the inside of the other. Not to wake, yet. Kvell touched his cheek through the cut in the mask and breathed softly. She was exactly like Ansa, but nothing like her, also. For a moment he thought he should just be a shadow, and let her have her sleep. Nathan had made a case for kindness and mercy before he’d received a swift, powerful knock.

There was too much rage and too little clasps to keep it back, inside him. “Cock-a-doodle-doo, my lady.” he said to wake her gently. He’d missed her eyes. What did she think about the almost cloven mask? “The master sir won’t be coming. It’ll be only you and I.” he said, the act a way of not giving her forgiveness, if she asked for it. If his purpose was to deceive, it was a lazy attempt, though. He’d not changed his jacket or his voice for this performance. Just the face of her guilt, if she harbored any. “Spoiled rat, as you know. I on the other hand know when to act.” And the wrath shot from his shoulder blades to his fingers. He turned her around to start undoing the lacing. She could kick and struggle if she wanted, or offer compliance in hopes of favor from him, it wouldn’t matter. He was erratic with his pace, tugging for his own comfort now and then. “I am so grateful for your faithless heart, Lady Ophelia.” He said with some sting as he parted the black to see her spine, her wings, and the rose cuts falling off those flightless feathers like sparks. “To think you would pray for someone in the morning, while being led and thrown out with pleasure.” A fond memory. “Only to sit and confess to another god. A bird, pagan, stuck-up god in the afternoon.” Bitter laugh, turning snarl when he turned her on her back again, allowing and encouraging but never listening to her protests or her fight as he had her without the dress, completely.

It was a cruel thing to have taken her invitation like this. No doubt he was in a cruel mood. He took his arms out of the jacket and tossed it aside as though the well-cut thing had wronged him, too. His anger made his jaw into twin knives with a common point underneath the leather likeness. “Isn’t there a little niche in the inferno for girls with hearts like yours? Three gods in one day. And in the end, no faith. What a busy little heart, indeed.” The tie, and then the shirt too. He had a few scars himself, but they faded in some light. His body was carved so it could make a good perch for his pretty. Unsettling to see the bare torso and the mask over it. “No matter.” He toppled over her, cage of his knees and one hand, to keep himself above her. “You’re my subject now, aren’t you, Ophelia? You like the kind and the flavorless.” Black eyes in the black mask. So many insults for his friend. Surely they’d said worse to each other’s faces. If she crawled he’d pull her back, and if she protested too much, he would even rap his palm across her beauty. “Maybe we’ll have faithless, capricious-hearted children, tonight?”

If she thought she knew what her speaking with Kvell in her room might entail, she could not have known it would play out with Nathan’s disguise. A particular stroke of sadism, both to himself, and to Ophelia. He liked to put that ink on his spirit, because maybe he thought that it would hurt her too, and then her punishment would be two-fold. Kvell reached for the bottle and kissed her with the same breath. At first his lips had all the frustrated lava sentiment this asinine act promised. His fingers around the belly of the bottle dug in hard against the glass. His head onto her head until the pillow couldn’t support further journey into the mattress and all she was allowed to smell was leather. But the kiss betrayed him. A sigh through his nose as another grip on her mouth with his became gentle. He retreated a few inches to let her breathe on him before he kissed her again, searching, but not ravaging. Then a last, feather light thing. After all, there couldn’t have been this much vile if there wasn’t equal affection.

“Oh, you are a different kind of deceiver, Ophelia.” He muttered, dizzy beyond the alcohol when his want swirled in his mind, also. He thought he was under her spell, somehow, because all beings have weapons. Rude as only she could have known her brother to be, he took the fine vodka and sat up, between her legs now. “We must sacrifice you.” And the liquid came out, slow, down onto her chest first, rising and coiling between her mounds and then share with the rest of her torso. A water star. He would be smitten with the way it pooled in some of her places, and ran off others. It was to lessen her, but it made her glisten. “Fit for the rooster god you want so much.” Bottle to her sheets, by her pillows. Her weapon, perhaps. He did not think of that.

He drew fingers over the vodka she wore, sliding his knees outward to part her legs. Angel sister baptized in vice-water. Was there signs on her skin from the cold liquid? He’d count them as his fingers read them, knots and points. He wanted to give her love, the way he’d wanted Ansa to want it, but he was still scorn by the way he’d kissed her. And by the doll she’d been with Nathan in her swing. “I told Kvell you’re sorry. I told him not to hate you.” His chest to her suit of vodka. Another kiss, this one perfectly carnivorous. He nuzzled Ansa’s hair and whispered into Ophelia’s ear. “He doesn’t forgive. He hates you, still. But don’t worry, I’ll be with you, instead. Wouldn’t you want that? I’ll take you from this mansion.”

Kvell wanted to have her, the way he’d made himself want it this morning, when he’d played with her. But he intended to be cruel about it, and make her addicted to that kind of cruelty. He wanted her to die by his lust tonight, that she could take his scolding into the afterlife where Ansa was, and he wanted desperately to keep her, that he could do it again tomorrow.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on August 07, 2016, 04:33:13 am
She was confused when she was tugged from her dreamland. Hazy, recalling that she’d asked for her brother, she blinked slowly at the rooster mask. Ophelia didn’t understand, at first. “Won’t be coming? But…” Sweet thing, unaccustomed to games and Kvell played them so cruel. She must have guessed at the notion he had carried into her room.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” She tumbled, seemingly unwilling to play her part in his preferred charade. He went on, stabbing his own rhythm. Ophelia was a special sort of numb, half awake and distressed by the spiteful rooster that had crawled onto her bed. She was pliable, two breaths from limp when he turned her to pull at her laces. They bit tighter before they came loose, forcing little gasps where the ribbons crossed the red welt roads on her back. “No, you aren’t sp—you aren’t a rat.” She protested meekly. Ophelia flinched when he dug his words hard into her skull, rattling around the swollen pearl of shame she’d been culturing.

Faithless heart. He wasn’t wrong.

She was infuriatingly wide-eyed when he rolled her back to face him, struggling to formulate some kind of response. “I was confused.” She said at last, trembling syllables. It was a new mood he’d found his orphaned sister in. When he pulled her dress away she didn’t protest. Shivering, worry smeared like too much paint across her face, but Ophelia quietly owned her nakedness. Offered it; a sacrifice in galaxy-spangled expanses, a universe he hadn’t quite discovered yet. Did Kvell realize it, met with the honest apology in her deep earth eyes? A woman’s body wasn’t known until it was adored. He’d only just uncovered her pages.

“I’m trying, Brother.” Ophelia breathed, sounds shaping in small vibrations. A whisper. “I’m trying to learn to love you.” Even when you make me turn my back on God. “I was frightened. I’m sorry I only looked for some comfort.” She was awake. It was a fault of fate that Nathan was the sort of noble she could’ve loved easier. But then, it might not have mattered. Her pulse was quick against the venom he offered.

“I don’t want Mr. Brandston.” She mumbled. It might have been a lie, but it was one she believed then. The result was more believable than she could have intentionally contrived. “Please don’t… not with that face.” She entreated. “I don’t want to—“ she swallowed hard and scooted higher against the pillow, toes curling. Didn’t want to want this. Didn’t want to betray herself again and with the jaws of this trap laid so brutally bare for her. She wanted to ask him if it wouldn’t hurt him also, to draw out her breath with this pretend.

His lips denied her request and her own buried her deeper. Hard, the way she’d learned Kvell’s mouth was want to be. They sunk into the softness of Ansa’s bed and, in a breath, she learned there was still gentleness in her villain. Her everlasting sin to hope, the way she had hoped after he’d baptized her on the night of their contract. If Ophelia were to learn to hate Kvell, it would be for this. If her heart couldn’t know him as a monster, there was no real chance she’d muster the courage to run. He chained her tighter with the smallest hints of sweetness. It was the same reason she was so simple for Nathan to please.

She was watching him when he sat up, confused as she deserved to be. “I swear to you, I don’t mean to deceive anyone.” She insisted, catching her breath. “Sir, please believe me. I don’t want you to hate me.” She was earnest in her hypocrisy. Little sinner. He poured his crystalline poison over her and it made her fists clench. Cold, and burning when it slithered over the scabbed rose cuts still angry shades on her skin.

Ophelia from the bosom of the good Sisters, transformed into a pagan princess by alcoholic anointing. A good sacrifice. She didn’t want to know if Nathan would have been pleased.

She gasped when he brought himself down on top of her and felt her heart drop into her stomach when he denied her forgiveness. Was this the same as being sent to hell if her contracted god would not accept her and her spirit was too blemished for her childhood faith? Netty had told her the path of goodness was straight and narrow. She had never been informed that it was the bladed edge of an infinite precipice. Nor that there were demons who could reject her twice.

Ophelia didn’t kiss him back, this time, swimming in a fear she’d not fully expected. The one that had urged her to beg Nathan to bring Kvell to her in the first place. “Please, please don’t say that.” She begged him. “How can I make you forgive me?”

He’d meet the Ophelia desperate to please that night, though she’d begun to cry. She was frightened he’d make her call his butler’s name again and even further terrified Nathan might make good on his promise and come. It wouldn’t be so very hard to find her duckling-like attachment to the rooster. It wasn’t something she wanted Kvell to expose fully. To himself or to her. There was a delicious dread in her voice when she bowed her head to his game. “I don’t want to leave. How can I make you… how can I make Sir Kvell forgive me?”   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on August 07, 2016, 09:10:07 pm
She was mostly submerged, still, at first. A becoming fog attached to her responses, which allowed her to trust him, even when the lie was thinner than his senses in their chemical bath. Already she was offering rewards in her reactions for his handling, but he wouldn't be sated by so little. It was not enough to be still and be her compliant self when he robbed her of the dress when she so clearly had given favor to Nathan. His pace suffered, though, when she looked at him and wore the kind of light that said he could have what she must think he wanted, when he turned her back, disrobed. Some restraint, and some reckless, kept him from turning into that animal. He was another kind of beast, tonight. Bird's head and dragon lungs.

How sugary it was, when she assured him her intents were for him, to reshape her affections that they might hold his, and she'd only needed Nathan to lean on in that endeavor. His lower teeth, only, in that would-be sympathy. A beak with incisors, what comfort. And when she tried to go away, into the bedboard, offering something, with her wording, at least, if he took the leather off. At first, for a few instances, it was the plan, to mark her first with this chimera he'd come as, but that plan had mutated now. Evolution in the darkness. Like evil. "I won't be wearing the mask for this, don't worry." he promised.

For his gluttony, he let her explain herself, and let himself drink her in. The lovely heart, the pure of promise, ready to pay with some of the clean she had in her ledger, that he might strike her offenses in his, the way he'd imagined them. "What use is your swearing if you don't know when you deceive, Ophelia?" his voice was almost a tired scolding, but the end of the question whistled in his throat, a monstrous frustration as though he wanted to but couldn't believe her. And his pace said it wouldn't have mattered.

She awakened him, the way men awaken for their tantalizations, when she wore the burning water so well. It was an innocent color of drink, and it was like her, wasn't it? Like fresh melt, off the fingers, thinner even, but hurtful to the tongue if you were thirsty. He wasn't shy with her legs between his. She deserved to know there was that want, at least. Would she even know what it meant, that kind of firm? And that solid truth gave a heartbeat to her, when she finally would play, let him be Nathan in this farce. There were steps in the distance, the gallant beauty had woke up from the sleep Kvell had planet with fast knuckles. Surely Ophelia didn't hear it, or couldn't know who was stepping so lively.

He left her on the bed, dismounted the mattress with a wide swing of a long leg, ending after a circle spun to render him standing. Elegant, and generous with it, as he was intoxicated. He opened the cabinet in the corner and took out straps with ring fastenings, things she already knew. "Off the bed, Ophelia. I'll remove my mask for you." he said without thinking to let her have Kvell just yet. He was sure she'd be eager for what seemed like him playing to her, finally. It wasn't a difficult task. Not rose dancing or canvas-work under needles.

Kvell, bare chest and angry silence, stood by the frame of the door with the straps in one hand, looking her over. The free hand pointed at her, a warning, by the flex in the limb, that she should not disobey what came next. The steps were louder, harder, outside. Closer. "Call my name and I'll let you see Kvell tonight." he said. He liked hearing her grind that noble call, before, earning her wings. Because she didn't want to but Brandston was so hard not to trust. Kvell waited for it.

Nathan would come bursting in, of course, for the middle of the room, and be stunned by the naked, still living sister. He wore the story of his abuse on his cheek when he stared at her, full of love and then worry. Nathan scrambled to shrug out of his coat to cover her, even, forgetting peril. And Peril would come up behind him, easily pushing him onto the bed with his arms caught in his sleeve. Kvell straddled Nathan the way he would Ophelia, but made haste with the bonds, because heroes can be deathly strong when they find their wit, after having found their reason. With practiced skill the rings hugged and Nathan's wrists were where Ansa's had been, and then Ophelia's. Their sir started pulling at the fine tailoring Nathan was kept with, until his chest was also uncovered. He even took Nathan's belt and the first button of his trousers. Kvell laughed behind the bird and again spun off the bed.

"Two of us now. One without mask and one completely honest." he said, hanging the belt around his neck, sitting in the armchair as he extended an inviting palm toward the served up, handsome butler. "Aren't you a lucky girl, Ophelia Oleander?"

Nathan, who had protested loudly, but kept from cussing, when he'd been subdued by the surprise and expertise Kvell had come with, looked from the tormentor to Ophelia. He tried to hate Kvell for the marks she wore, the healing contract and the glitter cuts from the garden. He tried not to think she was beautiful in them, too. "Kvell! Stop this! You're not yourself." but he was. Kvell was amplified by this kind of expensive fuel, not altered. He looked to Ophelia while he was still wild with the struggle against the bonds. "Lady! You must take them off me. He's not planning anything clean!" he beckoned.

Kvell slammed the bottom of his fist against the tip of the wooden arm his rested on. The wood there broke, and there was fiber snow on the floor. It was his quiet way of telling her not to listen to the butler. "I'm sorry for being two men, Ophelia." he said as he squeezed the jagged spear he'd made of the chair's limb. "But you have to listen. This is what I want." he pointed again to Nathan. "Surely your innocence can be mine, too." And that was the plan then. Nathan understood and called his master's full name. The master didn't even look. Only at Ophelia. "Look at me." said Kvell and meant Nathan. Nathan did host the same sign that he was indeed impressed by her nakedness. A round in the trousers he'd been allowed to keep, barely. "Would you help me?"

Nathan would call for the others, call for Moa, and other names Ophelia hadn't learned yet. None would come. Kvell remained sitting, like a patient demon waiting for the kind to weer. "If you want to please me." I, Kvell. "Then you'll sacrifice something that is dear to you of equal worth to the wound on my heart." He waved toward Nathan again, who was kicking, but would not if she came to him. He wouldn't want to hurt her, after all. And part of Nathan wanted nothing more than the softer image of Ansa, this new angel in Oleander. He'd make the case for her kept virtue, though.

"Kvell! My friend. My little brother! For us, you mustn't make her do this. Kvell! For friendship!" Brandston pleaded. His meaning was true, but he couldn't help but want this tragedy, too. Desperate words, either way.

And the only judge here would be deaf to them.

"That is how you make me forgive you." the rooster mask said, cold as law. "And if you don't, that is fine as well, because then there can be no amity, let alone love, and you can go, because your stay here would have no value. No half-eaten heart. Just a car in the night, and the end of your acquaintance with this house." And you will have lost me forever.

It wasn't that he wouldn't be hurt. It would tear him into little, howling stories. But he wanted that. She couldn't have his clean forgiveness. He wanted to hurt her irreparably, and he only knew to do that by measuring it with his own pain as an ingredient. And it fit exactly into the part of his soul that desired to punish others for glee, which was why this scene was so perfectly laid-out for heartbreak.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on August 10, 2016, 07:25:34 pm
Ophelia found she hadn’t a good answer for him. It was an impossible question. To protest was to prove a point and to acquiesce was to betray her integrity. She lay shivering, instead, cold as the clear liquid dried to vapor. The scent was sharp and burned her nose. She felt him against her and understood what she didn’t know at least well enough to feel dirtied and ashamed. Ophelia had offered herself for this in her desperation for forgiveness, after all. A pagan sacrifice.

She was surprised when he moved off the bed and then a flutter of hope rose when he called her to him. He told her he’d remove the mask, though, and that was enough. Any other man might feel some shame for deceiving her. Ansa would never have listened. She scrambled off the thick mattress and went toward him, only to stop in her tracks when he turned and, for the second time, told her to call the rooster’s name. If she obeyed, she wondered if he would take off the mask and forgive her. Somehow, she felt her hope had been misplaced.

Ophelia had asked for her brother to make right of her insult. Considering it now, she might have understood there would be some penance to pay. If she had been a more suspicious heart she might even have guessed at something like this play. But, she was not and she hadn’t considered what demon in his veins might be encouraging his malice. A sober Ophelia was no match for Kvell, intoxicated or otherwise. Because she had asked for this, she hugged her arms across her bare chest and hung her head. “Mr. Brandston.” She called, little effort given to volume.

She hoped he would not come. “Nathan,” a little louder, because Kvell’s expression had demanded compliance, not half-hearted attempts. There were footsteps she could hear, now, and her heart sank. 

Accepting her own, blemished soul seemed like a kindness now. It could be argued that Kvell was responsible for her downfall when she took the force of his sins. This was another kind of corruption. Cavities in her sweet, she clasped her hands across her mouth. She was shaking her head violently when Nathan came to drape his jacket across her shoulders. Ophelia wanted to tell him to go away, but the Sir had not instructed it.

Kvell had the man snared in his act of kindness, the jacket betraying him before he could remove it. Ophelia began to cry, the tears which had been threatening before spilling over in bright traces on her cheeks. She had always been quick to cry, but Oleander Manor had taken advantage of it. She looked away from the bed as if she had been slapped. “Please, don’t.” she covered her face with her hands when Kvell began to undress him.

Ophelia flinched and shrank back from Nathan’s protests and when he called for her she began to sob harder. Her shoulders quivered but she remained rooted in place, covering her face from looking at either man, though it was she that was bare. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!” she was tripping over her apologies without knowing to whom she spoke them. To Kvell, for upsetting him, and to Nathan for subjecting him to this sort of punishment. She fell to her knees at Kvell’s snide suggestion she was lucky.

Her cheeks were red and her eyes glassy from her crying. She looked past the bed to Kvell, shaking her head in disbelief. “Why…” she whimpered. “Why are you doing this to—to us…” she hiccupped. There was no a soul in the room who would be left undamaged by Kvell’s retribution. She crawled toward him until she was at his feet. “Please, my brother, please forgive me. Please stop this.” Ophelia was pretty when she begged. But Kvell carried on, denying the audience she sought and any concession for the de-plumed rooster on the bed.

His judgment cracked like a whip and Ophelia recoiled. Sent away in the depths of this broken with no family to show for it. There was nowhere to go, because she’d not take her sins back to the Sisters. He would see her utterly alone for her failure. She’d only wanted a friend.

But Kvell had given her Moa and Ophelia had still gone back. Even with the raw red wings still lashed to her back, she’d looked for the butler. Cruel girl, then. Minutes passed to the sound of Ophelia weeping at the brother’s feet. She was shaking, fingers tangled in her own hair as if to anchor herself.

She rose to her feet slowly. “I’m so sorry.” She breathed, barest whisper, and crawled back onto the bed. Nathan was still when she went to him and it hurt her more to find he still concerned himself with her wellbeing. The saddest kind of smile. “I’m so, so sorry Mr. Brandston.” She looked back at Kvell, as if to see that he was sure this was the price. “This is… what you want?” she asked him. Small voice.

“I’m sorry, Nathan. There isn’t anyone else to forgive me.” She touched the waist of his pants. “Will you forgive me too?” she asked, exposing her redemption. Ophelia looked away, shy maiden. If the butler hadn’t known her forthright nature, she might have seemed coy. “I don’t know… I’ve never…” she stuttered. She looked back at Kvell, the tears which had dried renewing in big frustrated gems in her lashes. Faltering resolve. “Sir Kvell is the only one who…” she hugged herself hard.

Awful, maybe, that she had only known his pleasure. Hadn’t it been just that afternoon that she’d looked for Nathan to comfort her when she’d thought her innocence lost? Yet here she sat, kneeling on the bed with one hand on his bare chest, bargaining her guarded sweetness for the favor of the man who had first violated her.
 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on August 11, 2016, 08:27:22 pm
He tasted her first formal call. A small flavor. Of course she would address the original rooster like so. And then an earnest name, because he was not Mr. Brandston to her. He was Nathan, friend and, very recently, confidant. It should be said for her, though, that voice had lovely conflict as it carried. She looked the part of a captive, being forced to do the bidding of her keeper, holding herself like that. Kvell didn't know how to play with restraint, because he'd never been given a toy as perfect as this.

Her modesty wouldn't see when Nathan, caught like she had been on the day of the contract, was rid of clothes. Kvell had of course thought of his friend in this manner. An authority on some fields, the Brandston butler had been a prize the adolescent Kvell wanted. There were other things to take his attention, then, and Nathan had been too busy, or kept himself too busy, for that particular dalliance. None of that affection now, though, when the deft tailoring flitted to gather by Kvell's forgotten jacket on her floor to the song of her addictive dismay.

That misery brought her to her knees. Kvell wanted her, bent over or pinned, or tied up. She'd cry sweetly then, too. But that was a reward, wasn't it? To both. He didn't want a reward. He wanted heavy soot on his heart. He thought to answer when she asked. There was a reason this was happening by his hand. But if it wasn't abundantly visible now, he'd rather not show it. No mockery would satisfy as much as her physical realization, anyway. He had to bite his tongue to stay true to that resolve when she called him brother. It almost made him embrace her. It was her fault, for not having been this beautiful for him, earlier.

He was to be quiet when she laid in shards by his feet from his proposal, if one it could be. The tinge that darkened him was what he'd sought. His delivered angel lead to do his malicious will. There was an ache in him when she stood and went to the body in the bed. He knew better than to trust her resolve to carry her through the logistics of something she'd never been allowed to consider. The show of her embarrassment when she undid the last of Nathan's cover was quite provoking.

Kvell also noted that Nathan didn't thrash when she was close. Mesmerized by her imperfect skin, with its tales and the healing text, but also concern of hurting her, if he should kick. If Kvell had read their connection plain, his friend wanted this, even if current circumstances wouldn't be ideal for that small dream. It was all tonight would be. If only the butler of Oleander could see himself though, the way he swung free when she pulled down, and his eyes that were just as greedy as Kvell felt, himself, over Ophelia. This was a betrayal to their friendship, yes, but Nathan couldn't say truthfully that he wouldn't enjoy it.

“It should not be so difficult, should it?” but Kvell’s voice was upset at her lack in a competence she simply could not have acquired, the life she’d led. Bullying her was his greatest pleasure. Kvell had been first with her for many things, but it was paramount to the betrayal he was forcing that he relent this one claim, no matter how beautifully she cried. He came to her, where she sat by her hero. Kvell wrapped his touch around her jaw. It was a possessive posture, with him towering over them both. Nathan was quiet. Perhaps the truth of his health and its new freedom made it complicated to argue. It was good to command both of their feelings like this. He had her head to his chest, directing her face toward the captured man as fingers of a free hand followed the valley between her jugular and her blood pillar, onto her collarbones, over an enticing orb and down her stomach. “Apart.” He ordered. Nathan stared, of course. Who would not?

She would know Kvell’s touch again, her only possible preference. He’d learned her a bit, counting the edges in her prayers to Netty. He went over those details in her repeatedly. Eventually, she had no choice but to be at the state that this game required. Little unknowing doll, played with. He leaned down to press his lips to her cheek, but instead of fulfilling the peck, he whispered. “You’re only honest when I tickle you. But you don’t laugh.” And here, Nathan’s attention darted from Kvell to her and back a few times. The bound man breathed. There was no argument in him. Hungry beast, tame, waiting to be fed. Only the smallest modesty for her sake made a bit of shame in some of the exhales through his nostrils. She had taken to this stage so naturally.

“Just pretend he’s my touch.” Kvell advised, taking his hand back from her. He lifted her by her arms, and hopefully, through her naivety, she would know that each leg should be on its own side before he started lowering her. Nathan swallowed. If this was forced on his part, he could have twisted away, but he was already engaged. Good to know, if he argued later. “You like the friction don’t you? He does, as well.” Kvell said when there was contact. He would let go and Nathan gasped.

“It’ll be alright, Ophelia.” Nathan encouraged. No plot that she’d help him free, anymore. The arms did not struggle when Kvell clad him in her.

The sir stepped back, becoming the quiet of the mask he wore, to see if she’d know. It would be her pace, at first, because Nathan was a bred gentleman. But not even the gentlest breed would not move, also, if she knew the sport, soon. Mark of a good servant was adherence to deprivation, and Nathan was at the head of the house for a reason. This indulgence, unholy, was almost too much, when he’d not come here for this kind of carousel. He would be lost soon. When the leather tightened around his wrist, it wasn’t to flee, but to touch her. He’d forgotten Kvell completely.

“Kiss me, Ophelia.” He petitioned as he had worship in his eyes, watching her spend her first time on his body. He really did sound like a lover, then.

They couldn’t see, but at the side of the bed, from where he was enjoying them, Kvell raised an eyebrow. He’d not allowed her to give her lips freely. For all she knew, her kisses belonged to the sir, not the servant. More intimacy for the act, sure, but was Nathan loosing himself deeper than he ought? A romantic, the clean kind. It would be interesting to see what she’d choose. If she looked to the mask for permission, there would be no indication. Eventually though, Kvell would take Nathan’s belt from around his own neck, and pelt her as she kept her own rhythm, and the rhythm Nathan helped with. She must be made to understand that punishment could be pleasant if it was physical. The Oleander school.

When he’d had his game this way, teaching her the lesson of fidelity by giving her the hollow of its absence, he moved to the foot of the bed, and told her to turn. A considerably easy task, with the provided axis, and she’d been eager to please, before. Perhaps he didn’t want Nathan to see her when things were climbing, if she could find it through the pain of a new thing, or perhaps Kvell wanted her attention when she did. Without planning to, he’d reach for her throat then, as he also straddled Nathan’s legs. Because she would be too beautiful, and he would hate her too much. He’d hold it firmly, her composition was no match for his strength, after all, and make it harder but not impossible for her to maintain her pace. At this point Nathan would be diligent from underneath her, as well. What did she see in the eyes then, when she couldn’t see most other features, leather dressed? Would she know that the love she’d awakened in her brother conspired to kill her? How satisfying, to make her an angel before she’d known the end of this. Dead before rapture. At that moment, and anyway if it didn’t arrive, he’d let her breathe, pull the mask off, to keep that promise, and his wild hair and black eyes would be free whether her pleasure came or not. Like a brute, just before Nathan reached, Kvell would push her off and to the side, that there’d be traces elsewhere than inside her. Surely it would have been good to have a human reminder her heart was cloven in sin, but Kvell was not ready for that, tonight.

“And there you have it.” He said, bitter as he’d expected to be, disappointed he’d not had the passion to kill her. He tossed the leather masquerade on her, barbaric, and picked up his shirt, laid his jacket over his arm. He came back to her side, the one not touching Nathan. “Isn’t Oleander a fun house?” he asked as he looked her over with some of the hurt, and all of the vile. If he was honest, he wanted to spend her on himself, next, right then. “Don’t you feel forgiven?” He reached to correct her hair, which underlined the entanglement, and then took the only dutiful, loyal thing he knew. The bottle was warmer, of course, but it would still have a bit of right left in its mostly spilled belly. “Goodnight, prince and princess.” He bid, and turned quite suddenly. He would allow for more pleading, it always satisfied him, if there was such strength in her throat, but it wouldn’t stop him. He’d be out the door soon, without locking it.

Nathan tried to seek her out, at the ebb of the pleasure she’d given him, with what give the bonds gave. “Don’t be sad, Ophelia. It was good, wasn’t it?” he asked, still blind in his humming delight. He might even believe this was their triumph, the surge having made him forgetful of Kvell’s dark plot. He’d not had Kvell’s grip on his throat and that blackened judgment shine on him. “Can I stay and sleep?”
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on August 16, 2016, 10:01:34 pm
She wore the expression of a beaten pet when he expressed his disappointment. It was unfair to expect her to know how to proceed. Ophelia could make crude guesses, but with all of Kvell’s dramatic show she was worried she’d not perform aptly. There was also that reluctance to commit to his request; the last time she’d been coaxed toward Nathan he had striped her back in angry raw. It was safe and terrible when he came to her, at last.

Ophelia was pliable in his hands. She had been, naturally, before but was immersed in it now. A loyal dog is quick to learn its master’s heart, even if it hasn’t mastered his tricks. Big brown eyes blinking at the exposed butler, the rooster without his mask. It was cruel that she didn’t realize it was provocation to meet his eyes that way when Kvell’s fingers wandered. Her breath hitched. She spread her knees as instructed.

Tears still glistened in her lashes, though her sobs had calmed to little sniffles. A complicated expression when he found her heat, lips parting and a tiny gasp. The drying liquor danced stars on her skin. There were paintings in the library of a strawberry-haired Venus, worshiped as she arched in the throes of some personal ecstasy. Ansa had bought it off some auction site, years ago. It wasn’t a classic, but she’d framed it as such and placed in in Kvell’s preferred reading room. Once, she had laughed and asked him if she ought to grow her hair long like the goddess. Ophelia, in tangles, manifested the eroticism of that dream. Innocence arched, shivering, and a sweet play of her breath and whimpers.

She was flushed, perhaps out of embarrassment with her stare still locked with Mr. Brandston. A more honest proposal would have spoken of the way her hips pressed forward to meet Kvell’s fingertips, aching for his friction. “Brother, please,” she mewled, the way she had before. But Kvell was intent on his game, denying her and pulling her toward the punishment he’d promised. Ophelia began to cry again, though she straddled the butler as was expected of her. “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” she grew frantic, breath shallow, and entreated both men for their mercy for her sins and her god as well.

She cried out, foreign and full, the sudden and terrible understanding that she had been naïve to believe she’d known violation that morning. But Kvell had promised pain with her pleasure and pleasure with her pain and Ophelia knew it true astride the kind butler. Kvell had not been so gentle, setting her atop her new throne, and her body rebelled in a shade of crimson to her desire. When he had released her arms, she covered her face in her hands and wept again. The brother had learned his sister quickly, though, and her body was quick to seek what he’d denied her. A shiver and shudder grown to an erratic and halting pace, but Nathan seemed eager to learn her too. He met the dance she was teaching herself and Ophelia would have been ashamed when she uncovered her face and leaned forward to plant her palms on his chest for the resistance.

But she hadn’t much the sense to know shame with every other lesson to be taught in this offering.

Fevered when she learned to climb toward redemption herself, she matched her rooster’s enthusiasm even as the tear-stained cheeks stayed slick. Her breath was hot, and she nearly gave into his request. Lips over his, tied down man, and then she stopped. “No, I shouldn’t,” she gasped, though she did not move from that proximity. She could have loved him, too, the way she met his gaze. If he’d made the slightest effort, he could steal the kiss she was denying him. Her expression shifted, though, tears renewing fast, when the first blow from the belt met her spine. She jerked hard against the sting and found pleasure at the end of it; comfort from the butler in her time of need, perhaps.

Nathan was granter her lips, after all, when Ophelia silenced her cries with his tongue. It was dreadful and perfect and she nearly missed Kvell’s demand, caught in the throes of her first real lover.

She yanked herself upright, though, terrified she’d earned some new wrath for giving out those kinds of kisses; but then, what hadn’t Kvell demanded she give Nathan tonight? It wasn’t overly difficult to oblige the Master, turning herself with the sort of clumsiness that made her sweeter, and looked at Kvell with all the guilt he could possibly have hoped for. Kvell’s hand on her throat, she wanted to cry for Nathan to stop, but the butler was obedient to the prince and his own needs, then.

Ophelia felt the blood pool in her lips, blinking hard when her vision began to swim. Adrenaline spiking through her limbs, she felt herself arch toward her zenith even as she was sure she’d suffocate. And then, as she tumbled over the precipice of pleasure into the warm, desperate ache of her shuddering blossom her brother gave her breath again. She was given the Master without the mask for the brief moment before her pulled her from Nathan and tossed her to the side.

She did not see whether the butler maintained himself or lost to demands her eager hips had placed on him. Ophelia listened to Kvell before he left them, but had nothing to offer. Before the door closed, she found the strength to call a final apology after him, though it sounded empty, even to her.

Nathan’s voice pulled her back into some semblance of coherence. “I don’t know.” She told him, and she was honest. He had felt her tremble for him, he wouldn’t doubt her body had found its pleasure. The soul, as always, was a different matter. She pushed herself onto her knees and did not meet his eyes when she went to undo his bonds. Freed, she lay back down on her side. “It’s not my right to tell you to stay or go, is it?” she asked him quietly. “Sir Kvell did not say, so I cannot either.” She mumbled. But she didn’t tell him to go and knew her heart would hurt no matter which course he chose.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on August 17, 2016, 06:34:34 pm
Part of the man Kvell had come to know was executed there, in the bonds Nathan had never tried before this night. The butler was undone watching Kvell playing her, stressing how endlessly new she was to this world, and the Oleander world. Nathan had been beside himself, and the mask on Kvell served to make his a distant character, an evil prop, because the butler himself had very little relation to the likeness of the bird, having only seen it from the inside.

If Ophelia's heart was compromised, Nathan’s was dirtied worse, because when he saw her, by Kvell's fingers, and her turmoil, it was everything he'd ever needed. An outspoken oponent toward all these things that Kvell liked to indulge in, at cost of the new sister, his fancy came with shame, but as with the girl, shame was touched with fire in this kind of happening. Both men were quite charmed with the way she begged her brother. Perhaps only Kvell knew exactely what that plea was for, though, as Nathan was occupied with having her, and feeling her, as the sir granted her.

He became guilty of indulgence, but he was sure Ophelia wasn't violated in the strictes sense of the concept, anymore. How lovely it was, to see her explore, even if her heart was misunderstanding her body. A more present Brandston would have apprechiated her hands over his heart, but this animal, though loyal, could only see the sensuallity of the way it changed her position. He did what he could for their rhythm, and created better angles for her, but mostly, without other notions to hinder her, her innocent life, Ophelia was good in discovering pleasure herself. How beautiful was she, the girl the sisters had simply sacrificed to Kvell, when she followed heat, but cried still?

He thought to leave her be, her distressed breath on his mouth were enough of a treat, when she staggered on her little march to oblige his request for her lips. Neither had such destiny, it seemed, when he lifted into her descent, brought on by his own belt. It was a better taste than this toss, almost. And it brought him against her faster, firmer. He gasped, lonely when she drew back, and was then left without her pretty face and its reactions, when Kvell directed her the other way. It became himself inside her, then, instead of a an effort they took together. Something changed in her when the master, truly the master of the room, held her breath for her. Nathan wasn’t late to explore this change in her hold.

Kvell had seen her betrayal, her delighting the tied down participant by caring for his tongue, and it was made a deeper wrong, afterward, when she was gasping for life and pleasure as though they were both equally crucial, because she was more beautiful then, and Kvell was possessive, especially of beautiful things. When the mask came off, did he still wear that ill will toward her? The apology she sent with him was forgotten when the door was closed.

Nathan, once freed, ran one hand through the entire length of her hair. It was tousled of course, but he was gentle. Always so. This had not been a perfect joining. She was not glued to him with her eyes, or diverting them in the happiest shy. But he could not find it in his flushed heart to believe it had been a punishment. “Then I’ll stay.” He promised and took her to him. Nathan, who had not lived through the strain of being Ophelia in this house, was still exhausted by her, and fell asleep.

-

On the fifth day there was sunlight outside. Nathan, who had slept silent and still with her, was now alive. Sparrow had come at a kind hour in the morning, and been followed by a few animal faces. She held a basket and a blanket over that arm. The tail of others carried a garden dress and a hat, designs not unlike what she’d been made to dress Ansa with, in the labyrinth, and a suit with a vest matching the patterns of her clothes for Nathan. He hurried out, of course, to perhaps wash and get himself together after trying on the perfectly fitted trousers, leaving Sparrow with Ophelia. A quiet, little bird’s mask for what had to be a life time, and then she sighed with disapproval, black nail fingers putting the basket down and holding out a white envelope with red ribbon on top of a fat towel. “Soap, brush. All the things you’ll need. It’s said to be a good day, and it’s going to get better, even. The weather.” She said and looked the girl over, judging, but not her beauty. “If it pleases you or your newest beau, the garden is yours. I’ll have your sheets washed.” No order, which meant no Kvell. Moa put the towel and the envelope by Ophelia’s feet, whether she was still in bed, or standing. “Enjoy.” She encouraged and the company swiftly took their leave. “but you always do.” The bird chirped, before closing the door. If Ophelia went looking outside, a tub was there again, by the window, and the corridor would be empty for her use.

If at any point Ophelia wanted to know about her brother, Moa had been informed he was either dead or in the library. She would deliver these news with specific tartness.

Nathan was his dapper smart when he came to fetch her, and was quick to claim the basket, heavy with the sweet things inside. After a quick lift of the lid, he wore a promising smile. “No sign of Kvell.” He said, as though it was glorious news. Were they the mice, was he the cat? He breathed through his nose, to beg the atmosphere between them be a bit more serious. It was mostly to reel in his own chipper, that he dug his heels in and straightened his neck before her. “I am sorry for what has transpired, and how I was unable to stop it, or even myself.” In the light, in the corridor without other animals, he was as serene as he meant to be. “But please don’t remember it with distaste. To me, it was the greatest gift. But I make no assumptions. I only wish to redeem this place to you.” A clean presentation, because Nathan was honest. In his way, he was asking to court her without forcing her to answer.

He offered his arm, but would be just as content with escorting her, if she wanted that, out to the garden. It was a grand place. There were birds, a moderate amount. Everything calculated, everything controlled. Nathan was a happy person, full of energy, it seemed, and told her the story of a great fire one generation ago, and how it had changed the garden completely. He promised to show her the sketches of mrs. Oleander, Kvell’s grandmother, so Ophelia would get to see and imagine the smaller design, how it married better to the surrounding forest. “But the path there is not so friendly.” He said and looked at her feet, peeking out underneath the dress when she took particularly lengthy strides. “Oh, what am I thinking?” he said, laughing in embarrassment and bent down, beside the basket he’d relieved himself of after stopping, and started untying his own shoes. He left the pointed leathers there, with socks in their mouths, to continue their stroll with naked soles, also.

This was the tour of the outdoors that she was meant to have, the day Kvell had made her undress, and walk about in the thorns. No threat with Nathan, of course, but she’d not suspected Kvell back then either, before she’d met with the statue of her sister, impaled. Nathan was sure to never venture close to the entrance of the labyrinth, that she would never be worried this day would turn into something sordid in his care. He wanted her to feel safe. How would the little girl with the facetted heart take to being safe finally? He hoped it would strengthen her in herself, and not lead her toward any kind of strange longing to the opposite, that had been her norm. She would notice the conversation, when he could help it, did not veer anywhere near the mention of Kvell, himself.

As expected, the butler did well in setting up the blanket for them by a crescent of vegetation, not entirely unlike the wave of candles that had almost engulfed Kvell the first time she’d seen him. He plated food for her, a sandwich, some meat and a few small pastries, as had become her usual fare. And a shining fork, struck by the sun as though the star was also aware of its novelty. It would be her first morsel that wouldn’t be eaten from Kvell’s fingers. How would she make do, feeding herself? Nathan started with the pink lemonade, and was at home in this leisure. He wasn’t always a servant when he was, and before becoming one, he’d known this as a place of adventure and, yes, friendship.

“Please.” He said and stood, placing his glass by hers. His hands were out if she wanted his help to sit. He tried not to think that she was not wearing undergarments underneath the provided dress. He remembered Ansa in it, and their countenance were leagues different. He much preferred Ophelia. But Ansa had never venture so far outside of her brother’s proximity, or grace, to ever have touched the butler the way he’d engaged with Ophelia, yesterday. The first sister to have lived here had not brought Kvell to doubt her affections, either. She, instead, could be faulted with loving Kvell too much. She had enraged him with a pure fire, that could easily be quenched with little or much punishment. And so, the weapon Kvell had been welded by that furnace of that relationship. Reluctantly, Nathan would also tell her that short version, if she indicated she wished to know.

“For you, and your smile.” He said and held his glass up, if she’d sit with him, hoping the mention of it would bring a little curl to her lips. He was almost overly friendly and glad, perhaps to offer counterweight if she was feeling somber by any, some or all of Kvell’s transgression since she’d come here. It hurt him a bit, this overwhelming crush that had been catalyzed into something dearer, yesterday. Of course, Nathan’s solution to it was not to make her go nude in the garden or mark her in any way, but rather try to make her comfortable with his nearness. “Is there anything here you would like to see? Anything you would like to know? This house has secrets, and I’ve been introduced to many of them.” He gave, forking fruit and eating it quickly. Hadn’t Kvell offered something with a kind tongue too, when she pulled Nathan, whether willing or not, into this, and subjected herself to Kvell’s vengeance? Nathan wouldn’t know, of course. He simply sat there, drinking pink lemonade and remembering her hair in the glass, how she’d wielded it, on top of him. He did not blush, controlled man, but it made him warmer.

A small breeze kept the day from becoming unbearable. If the mansion had been imposing for the presence of its heart, its son, earlier days, it was a ghost villa now, saying nothing in a hollow voice because it seemed lacking, robbed without his persona filling it. Nathan tried to make it into an idyllic calm, the peace and quiet that made a country place worth its price. But perhaps the manor was a stage, instead, with curtains up and no evil to churn the drama and peril. So no music from the orchestra, and no blood in the heart from watching.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on August 21, 2016, 08:26:12 pm
It was late morning when Kvell had finally left his sister in tatters on her bed with the rooster prince. In the windowless room, she only knew she was exhausted. If her body was aching, her heart had no pity, swollen with the most potent bruises. Nathan’s fingers in her hair held her breathless like the gasping lonely of a missed love. The girl developing an addiction to touching a hot stove, ever reaching and recoiling. She was stiff when he wrapped her in his arms and counted the beats of her heart until she fell asleep.

If the butler had orchestrated the workings of the Manor, it rolled on without him in quiet form. Kvell did not wake them, and the curious pair dreamed until the next day was spend and then the night after. Ophelia woke twice in that period, gingerly unwrapping herself from Nathan’s arms the second time and huddling against the edge of the bed before she fell back asleep.

When Moa woke them, Ophelia was afraid of the sparrow’s judgement and relieved when Nathan took his leave. It wasn’t that she’d become altogether less fond of him, so much as she was shocked he was not as upset by what had happened as she. It made her nauseous, reminding her of the way she’d shuddered and held fast to him, when she looked at him and understood he did not regret it. It made her wonder if that meant she did. She found no satisfactory answer for herself and wished Kvell would come back to tell her what to think. Ophelia touched her ribs, where the bruises were fading and the contract was crisp, and wondered where that clarity had gone. She did not feel forgiven.

Ophelia sat up to take the things Moa had set by her toes. “Thank you.” She said numbly, and did not look the woman in the eyes. Somehow, hearing the disapproval in her tone smarted less than she’d expected. Moa could have said anything she wanted and it would not have mattered the way the disappointed curl of her brother’s lips had torn her seams. When she was left alone, she slipped from the bed, still undressed. Ophelia should have questioned why Kvell’s approval had become so imperative, but she hadn’t questioned why she had stopped her praying either. A heavy sigh and she went to find the tub that had been left for her, wrapped in the towel and the dress she’d been given draped on her arm.

She took her time bathing, scrubbing listlessly and inhaling the sharp clean of the soap. Did she always enjoy? Ophelia wasn’t sure. She didn’t quite know what enjoyment meant anymore. She thought she enjoyed the Oleander sweets and Nathan’s company, but the only thing she felt unsettled for now was the dark prince brother that had become a phantom she couldn’t reach. And he frightened her.

Ophelia found Moa on her way back to the room and chanced asking for Kvell. She was given a reply that was as good as being sent away and she returned to Ansa’s bedroom with her gaze downcast. She sat on her bed to wait, though she’d been told the garden was open to explore. Ophelia had become used to waiting. Any move she’d made for herself, thus far, had gone exceptionally poorly. She smoothed the skirt of the dress across her thighs. It did not surprise her when it was Nathan that came to fetch her. His smile was kind, but the expression she wore in return was vacant. It was unfair to him, maybe, as he’d endured the same as she. But, she thought, it was unfair to her that he wore it so easily. Enjoy. But you always do. Did she, really?

When he reminded her that her brother was nowhere to be found, she flinched. “Is that so…” she murmured. Perhaps he read the settled unhappiness in her, because he seemed to pull back on his enthusiasm. Ophelia couldn’t remain too upset with him, when he was so sincere. “It wasn’t distasteful because it was you.” She said gently. It was wrong because it wasn’t Kvell. But she didn’t say it, for worry of disappointing Nathan too. She needed him, at least, if Kvell wouldn’t have her. “It’s me that needs to redeem myself to this place.” She disagreed, muted, but stood and took his arm when he offered it. She hadn’t raised her face since she’d woken up, intently following her bare toes with her stare.

She listened to him talk about the Manor that felt empty without its Lord breathing his whims and tempers through the halls. It didn’t restore any liveliness to her, as he might have hoped, though she nodded politely at appropriate points. When he took off his shoes, she did smile. Nathan was a good man. Perhaps it had been Kvell’s intention to sully the sweetness she’d felt toward the butler. “I am sorry it happened the way it did.” She blurted, stopping in her tracks and staring up at him. “It was my first time, too. I never thought—“ she bit down on her lip and averted her gaze again. “I am sorry, I would never have wanted you involved in punishments meant for me.” She was quiet for a long moment. “And it was a punishment. It doesn’t matter if I like it or not.”

Ophelia didn’t say anything else, letting Nathan fill the silences until they reached their picnicking place. She was grateful to him for that much, and she hoped he could tell. She watched him prepare their food. When he handed her the dish and the utensil with it, she wore an expression as if she’d never seen such a device. The human mind is strong because it can adapt quickly and fill in the blanks necessary to soldier on. In Ophelia’s case, her mind might well have been forming a more potent enemy to her wellbeing than she could have realized. She settled onto the blanket, accepting his assistance, and began to eat. She wondered if Kvell would disapprove more of her solitude with the butler or the fork.

“You look so natural here.” She said after some time. “Was it peaceful here, before I came?” She asked. The answer must have been more complicated than the question implied. The leather-bound angel Ansa should have told her as much, when she arrived. But Nathan and Kvell had both made it apparent they had been friends, regardless of whatever it was they were now. That sort of thing, a friendship, seemed too pure not to have existed in a more harmonious sphere.

“Did you know my sister as well as you know Sir Kvell?”

She did give him a little smile for the effort of his toast, and took a sip from her own. “I’d like to know more about Kvell and Ansa,” she said when he offered the Manor’s secrets. He must have realized her concerns would fall in that direction, though he might not have anticipated the bluntness in her tone. The deceased twin tying to her to this place that had been a frightening dream for days. The brother that had installed himself as a new and vengeful god. “Kvell is the reason I’m here. I should learn not to upset him.” If anyone was to show her the intricacies of the home itself, too, it should be the Master. If Nathan wished to offer her something now, it was the path to Kvell’s grace. She didn’t want anything else.

Ophelia reached suddenly to place her hand over his. “Nathan. I wish I had met you in another life.” She said. Earnest brown eyes. Ansa’s, if Ansa had remembered innocence. In all of this, unsullied. “Sincerely, I do. I care about you, I think.” She told him, chewing on her lower lip. “But,” and it wasn’t anything he didn’t know, so she didn’t finish the sentence. She withdrew her hand and tucked her knees up to her chest, perching her chin on them. “Thank you, Nathan.” She said after a long silence. “No matter what happens, truly thank you.” Another smile for him, this one sad the way it had been the last time they’d been in the garden, but more poignantly for him.

“Will you hate me, if he comes for me? If I need him to?” she asked him. “If I look for him, even if I could fall in love with you?” She had promised Kvell she’d try to love him. She had made no such promise to the butler. Somehow, it seemed like Kvell was a mercy when this was the alternative. Kind man, kind heart, who might have cared for her the way she would have found inspiring. But he knew she must feel obligated to his Master. This gentleness, then, was a self-indulgent cruelty on both their parts.   
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on August 22, 2016, 07:33:44 pm
Nathan had seen much of the world. His education, paid for in full by Oleander tradition, had seen to it, and a rich life, if he wanted. His heart was not as new as hers. So he recognized the dissatisfaction in the girl when he came. Before, when he wore his mask, and served as a tail for the true prince of all this mortar and century design, he'd been fresh, a comfort in this storm. Not so now, to her. So his heart had settled into denial, the way something might recoil from thorns. There was no other way than to be kind to her, whether to win her over, or make her time here more tolerable. The image of her drawing back when he had no news of Kvell stayed like a poisoned vein on his love.

She was pretty by his side, and he enjoyed having her to himself in the gardens, but she did not seem as present as he wanted. His training and care said he should ask her what was on her mind, but he'd be hurt if he did, so instead he went on about this place. He knew enough that they'd never have to have a conversation, if they chose not to. When she broached yesterday he breathed to speak a few times, because it had meant the world to him, her beauty ontop. But Ophelia didn't say anything that he could nurture into the fondness he'd felt. "I'm sorry." for how you feel. There was a small comfort in the way she reacted to the food, and that she ate.

He almost spoke through the crumbs of the bread he'd taken when she finally asked him something. The answer did not taste as light and carefully baked, though. "It wasn't peaceful, no." some water, to free his tongue. What could he say that she would understand? She'd grown up in a home. "Ansa loved Kvell violently, and, you know how Kvell is himself, so--" he looked at his knife, tipped in red marmalade. She saw its reflection over one of his already light eyes. "it was volatile and the only way they knew how to live. But it was consensual, their whirlwind." he looked to the side, at the tall, beautiful bush and its natural ornaments. The flowerheads listened, too. "Like reading a particularly frightening book. Unsettling but also the only way it can be. It’s destined design." he sighed, but it wasn't miserable. "Their connection had very little to do with me, so I only did my work, and served as a friend to Kvell when I could. Ansa wouldn’t like it when I tended to her hurts, and any neglect on Kvell’s part was intentional, so eventually I simply left books and print-outs of physical care by his room."

The marmalade stretched over a cracker. Sinfully, it was already salted. Nathan wasn’t proud of this vice. She struck a sensitive chord in the man when she pressed the question, and how important it was to her that she had the knowledge to please Kvell. Nathan took some air deep into himself for strength, and then ate all of the cracker quickly. More water. He didn’t have the heart for outward sullen. “He doesn’t look at you the way he did her.” He said. Maybe it was meant to encourage her, but he realized it might not. Her reason for being here, after all. The aftertaste of the bite became bitter, also. “So you’re not the same to him. But he likes you, if you can’t tell.” It was hard, of course, to try and reconcile them like this, when obviously he’d rather keep her. “She has a wardrobe of items that nobody was allowed to mend.” He mumbled and looked at her with warning in the blue eyes. Yes, Nathan Brandston looked natural in the sunny garden. “It’s not locked. You’ve walked by it on occasion. Maybe if you see it you’ll know more about him and Lady Ansa. Sparrow might show you.” Torn fabrics in whites and grays, bloody holes and immodest, forced redesigns. Some of the skirts were tied into knots for her practicality. There were dark words, here and there, for when Ansa was bored with simply bleeding.

She pulled him from this when she gave him her hand. Nathan turned from his efforts to carefully word the suffering Ansa chose, to instead look at Ophelia with his usual softness. A lovely confession of fondness, torn in a beautiful way, she gave. He knew that Kvell had taken an opportunity like this and made it into dark passion, his or hers. Nathan didn’t have that knowledge or incentive, even if he appreciated her teeth on her lip, and her conflict. He listened carefully so he could remind himself of this, later, if her courtesy ever made him think he’d won her over. “And thank you.” He pressed her hand between his when her smile drew the real emotion of her words all too vivid. It made her wonderful to look at, but kept her farther from him than before.

He had to rely on the image of their hands when she continued. She took that hand back. She couldn’t hear it in herself when she spoke as one already lost. The influx of endorphins from yesterday, when love had been made but orchestrated, became equal amounts of dread now. “Does it matter, Ophelia?” he didn’t spit the question, because he asked for himself, hopeless. Why did everyone make Kvell their belief and deity? To Nathan he was still a brat brother that needed guidance, not a larger than life soul. “I suppose it doesn’t, because I couldn’t hate you, ever.” And he smiled her smile back at her. He wanted to shake her and ask what made people give themselves to Kvell so fully, when their hearts were worth so much more. When he tipped the glass for more water, to justify the coming silence, there was nothing left to drink.

“Would you answer me, too?” He placed the vial with the rim down. It toppled quietly. If she’d learned him enough, she would understand it was not in his nature to play like that. Proper because he was bred to be. “If I wrote on you with a quivering needle, and—with roses… and made you pray to me.” His voice failed, and his hope to deliver bitter with it. His tongue stung. Two fingers to comfort the bridge of his nose when he closed his eyes for a small collection of self. “Ah. It’s not me.” New eyes for her, without glass. Poised head-servant. He remembered her wings, her spine from their tryst, then, when Kvell had her turn away. Her hips delivering pleasure but her attention on the Sir, only. That was a more truthful representation of what had transpired. He’d only thought of how good it felt, until now. What a useless, selfish experience he’d had. He’d fallen in love when she’d fallen to shards, thinking her punishment might not be enough to satiate Kvell’s madness. “Forgive me.”

His small-talk wasn’t so desperately light, thereon, to the girl who had made herself into a bundle on the blanket. An inner optimism, incurable, but no clever references or raised brows for her to laugh when he knew she wouldn’t. Perhaps this was true to what they could be, taking food in the garden, but having very little to speak of. Toward the end, he decided that there should at least be friendship. And friends help one another. It would break him, but he thought that some friends do that, as well. “Would you like to go inside?” he asked, plucking plates and silverware. “I can show you around. Who knows. Maybe we’ll meet a spoiled prince, pouting in some gilded corner.” Practiced, straight back. He did not expect her to decline. In fact, he was a bit dreadful for what enthusiasm she might have for the offer. He wanted Kvell’s charisma then, to tie her so hopelessly to him, instead.

The manor was easily navigated for him. They went by the kitchen, where he handed the basket over to a man with a bloody apron. The environment was light and sterile here, and Nathan lingered here before he waved a hand at the butcher, again. “Robert.” He said to Ophelia, but then addressed the friendly but distracted person as “Bob, I would like a little snack package. Bluest you have.” The term made Bob laugh and he finally gave Ophelia some attention.

“Developing a taste for it? You’re all crazy here.” He said and hurried to his station, making haste with a strip of meat. He gave it to them in white wax paper, and Nathan made sure Ophelia took it, herself. “try it with some acid at least, there are lemons in the garden, since you’re new to it.” Bob suggested and laughed again. Nathan gave Ophelia half a smile as he lead them out.

“If you find yourself without appetite for it today, you can always give it to someone else who’ll enjoy it more. In the past, Ansa lured Kvell with bloody treats if she felt she wronged him, or if he said she had.” The sir had never been so scorn before, though. Nathan had not seen Kvell’s mood as a problem, but now realized it might be impractical if Kvell made life difficult for sweet Ophelia because of it. Her life wasn’t so enviable, already. If she asked, he would lie and say he didn’t mind helping her like this. Friends. They had to start there. If he could he would give her a courtship that was more like ones on the outside, even if the outcome seemed set. His love had to be patient, and when it couldn’t be, it had to break alone, where she couldn’t see.

So he made conversation, and told stories if she was hard to entreat, until they were well on their way toward the library with the little packet. It was quite a test to him, newly fallen for her, that she was so beautiful in the house’s lighting. A veil over his eyes, probably, but the pain to his spirit was real. Nathan was valiant because he could be without reward or acknowledgement. In the corridor that would lead to the grand hall of books, where an image of Venus had prophesied the last night in their memories, there was a little bird, walking like she’d had wine in the bird bath. Nathan knew Sparrow to be an exceptionally sure drinker, and thought her little sway was curious. As they came closer, he detected a rich, crimson brook down the end of her mask. The dark life curled inward from her chin and came down her throat to bring attention to the swells of her torso, her dark uniform easily showing off the effect. But her lips were parted, almost wide, in a content smile. Nathan knew what could bring her to such satisfaction, but didn’t know how to warn Ophelia until the bird came upon them.

Moa reached out, both hands, and forced the pair apart as she passed between them, fingers gliding over their cheeks as she laughed. A little sound. “Come to feed the beast? He’s in a giving mood, today.” she said, twisting around on sure legs despite her sway. She meant the meat, of course. “Two lovers going to the menagerie. Ah. What an idyllic little novella.” She cleaned her upper lip with her tongue. “And the butler without a mask! How nude you look.” She added. “Nothing Lady Ophelia hasn’t seen, though, so all is appropriate, yes?” Nathan hissed low that Ophelia should not listen to the twittering maid. “I like you two together. I like that when you pick a pony, Ophelia, even if it’s the wrong pony, you ride it to finish.” she laughed again, and it was every bit as unfriendly as Bob hadn’t been. Sparrow flew on in her glistening euphoria.

Nathan offered his hand, after that. He’d rather not take her to the library now, considering, but at least Moa had guaranteed who’d be in there.

Kvell sat underneath the chandelier, at the center of the woven scene on the round carpet. The light was worst there, of course, but where would the master be, if not in the middle? His legs were thrown over one arm of the luxuriant furniture, and in the lap of his fine suit laid a red fabric, and on top of it a thick eye-mask, made from glass, metal and leather, intricate and pretty. Leagues better than the animal faces he made everyone else wear. He held a book, and turned from it splay to see the visitors. It was impossible to know if the blink was a greeting or fatigue at the plot he was consuming before he turned back to the letters. Nathan realized it might not be a good choice to come here holding her hand. He let go slowly, but Kvell had already seen, though he’d made no sign of noticing.

“He is being difficult, as always. If you want to, now is as good a time as any to try and speak to him.” His hand on the low of her back urged her forward. This felt like selling his lover. A lover that wanted to go. He waited by the door. He hated this, but he wanted if not her happiness, then her peace.

Did the portrait of the goddess with Ophelia’s hair and a cadence she’d forgotten give her peace, when that painting held guard over the sitting Kvell, who did not give her his attention in favor of the story on yellowed paper?
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on September 04, 2016, 06:41:30 am
Ophelia took Nathan’s retelling like salt water on a wound, eager to be clean, gritting her teeth on the edge. If Ansa had loved Kvell violently, she had done it like breathing. Ophelia hadn’t written her brother onto her bones in the same way. It was frustrating, the easy understanding that she was learning the footsteps of another dancer. Worse to grasp she played a different music. Still, she appreciated Nathan’s compliance and willingness to share that little bit. His tone gave her the stories his tongue wouldn’t quite shape, and that was enough. In the end, none of this history was on Nathan’s conscience. It made her wish she had been signed to love him, instead. The rooster would have been an easy heart to nurture. They might have formed something new and sweet.

She had been given to Kvell, though, who cultured a passion like wine. Bitter and heady, ripe with the glossy gasps of an old love. Ophelia might have understood some amount of jealousy in herself, if it hadn’t worn the veneer of fear she’d come to hold so close. Fear of Kvell and fear of not having him. Nathan would see the way her expression fell when he carved in the air confirmation of her utter contrast with Ansa. Of course he didn’t look at her the way he’d looked at their phantom sister. “Is that so,” she said. Of course.

Nathan was a better soul than Oleander Manor deserved, she was sure. He was gentle for the sake of the Master and the Girl regardless of himself. Ophelia was quick to see that much. If she was naïve to Kvell’s cruelty, she had been raised to see goodness where it bloomed. “I want to believe you’re right. But, truthfully, it is hard to tell. And after—after—“ she stared at him, words bitten back and a hard flush on her cheeks. “He gave me to you, instead, didn’t he?” she asked at last. She shook her head hard then, rosy strands flying. “I mean, not that I would hate it. I couldn’t possibly hate being yours.” She took a hard breath. “It’s just that I—I want to be good for him. I promised.”

It was curious, the way her heart had twisted the promises he’d written on her skin. She had only promised to stay and to try. And yet, Ophelia Oleander could not persist if she had no god.

She was appreciative when he gave her the little clue in the wardrobe. “You’re an angel, Nathan Brandston.” She told him. If angels sacrifice faithful girls to dark princes.

Ophelia wore a curious expression for him, when he asked what she might have done if he had become her god. The soft round of her lower lip, freed from the nip of her teeth, spelled potential that she hadn’t entertained for him. Pleasure, once learned, is hard to forget. Kvell had meant to teach her and, at her most impressionable moment, he’d punished her with the heat of Nathan’s body. It would have been unfair to expect her to be unmoved by the possibility. She found her senses when he found his, and gave him the sad eyes that he’d begin to find were his alone. Fine butler. Gracious servant. “There’s nothing to forgive.” Soft.

She followed him inside and was glad for the kind butcher he took her too. Nathan didn’t have the stomach to be her god, surely. He was too loyal, giving her treats to please the stomach of her god. Ophelia seemed happier, when they left with her offering. Hopeful, maybe. “Thank you,” she said to the butcher, as they departed. “Thank you, too.” She said to Nathan when they were alone.

The energy that had returned to her step, purposeful with her gift to present, lost its confidence when they neared the library and found Moa flitting out. Ophelia stepped closer to Nathan, as if she might need his guard. Did he know that the sparrow had been spiteful, that morning? She didn’t understand the expression on the little bird’s lips, because it wore less shame than Ophelia’s own mouth carried. As if it was necessary to accentuate that difference, Moa brought venom on her tongue with sugar sweetness on its tail.

Ophelia didn’t know what to say to the maid, though she desperately wanted to correct her. She wasn’t sure Moa was entirely wrong, though, and any hope of rebuttal was easily quashed by that insecurity. She squeezed her little parcel tight. When Moa had left, she accepted the butler’s hand. A bit of her understood it was weak to do so, but she lacked the confidence to step into the library alone, as it was.

She felt a chill in her chest when they stepped through the door. Kvell was frightening when he was handsome, and he was generally handsome. Or Ophelia was becoming used to being frightened. She looked at Nathan for some sort of explanation, when Kvell did not acknowledge her. “Oh, okay.” She mumbled, shuffling forward at the butler’s gentle insistence. Like a child being sent for a scolding. Head bowed, bloody offering held at her waist.

“Brother?” she asked, when she had reached him. She settled down onto her knees, so that he might be forced to see her in his periphery. “I wanted to see you.” She said. “I brought… I brought this for you.” Ophelia held out the paper-wrapped meat. She waited. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting you. I’ll go, if you prefer it.”

Ophelia swallowed hard and prayed he would not take her up on that offer. “I… have you forgiven me?” she said at last. Such a small voice. She licked her lips. Nathan had been kind, helping her this far. And she wasn’t so dense as to think it mustn’t hurt him to aid her, too. She was determined to be worth that effort. Trembling boldness, she reached for his sleeve with one hand while the other continued to hold out her gift. “Can I fix it? You can—“ she was a precious creature when she was tongue tied. “You can ask me for anything.” He had stripped away what innocence she’d had left, as it was. Offered it to his servant when it hadn’t been good enough for his own pleasure. He had all of her at his disposal, then. Unwrapped.

“Please.”

 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on September 04, 2016, 08:41:09 pm
And Nathan felt that way too, that he was leading Ophelia into more hardship, sending her toward the dapper dragon, lounging with a treasure of masquerade on his lap. The butler thought it might be wonderful to stop her and bring her away, whisk, as the novels said. Would she appreciate it? The expression on Kvell's face would be enough payment, if she didn't. The cloak of her cadence spoke when she would not, though. He'd seen it when explaining Ansa, too. The living sister was latched onto the available shadows that bled from her brother. She might not know, she certainly didn't say, but there were other ways to tell truth. Nathan was carefully and gently suffering a sharp weapon onto the heart that coveted and cared for Ophelia as she went.

He'd not spoken up, waiting for her to do so on her own with Sparrow. Should he now, when she was making her way to the chair that was spilling with the lengthy limbs of their barely seated, much too comfortable master? What should he exclaim to help her, or to mend himself from this growing misery? He couldn't help that his was a conventional affection, one that might have been enough in another life. He should not be dueling with Kvell's claim and baroque aura. Stood the butler on the toes of his shoes, put back on from the garden, and inhaled as though he would call her name, and change the tide of this plot. But he was dry of verbal magic. Even though the sister and the brother sparkled of onyx glitter, it was still more magic than his ordinary infatuation held. Heels back on the floor. Weapon returned into his heart. He should leave. Truly that would be better. He gave me to you, instead, didn’t he? she'd said. How disappointed she'd been, without knowing it. And yet, Nathan was giving her away too, like this, and she herself.

Kvell was being brought along an upheaval of the story. The words were pretty, but the twist was nonexistent. There had been no promise of one, though, and he'd not picked the author for surprises. Not all meals could be completely new. This world, old ink, was heft and tradition. He had a craving for such comforts, sometimes. But it could not hold him, when she walked over the way Ansa never would. The way she tried for attention, insisting without being insistent. If she was a demon, she was tailored after his vices.

He might have lost the entertainment of literature upon her presence, but he could still pretend while soaking in her careful display. He kept reading the same fragment without really understanding it, trying to seem occupied. 'and ravage took the flesh'.  She on her knees, by him. So this was what venison smelt like, laying itself infront of the wolf. The likeness became deeper, when she held out the present. What perfect size. His act broke when her little fingers presented the dead gift. "Ravage." he whispered, tongue eager to expel what he was repeating in his mind. Would it sound threatening to anyone else, accompanied by the sharpness of his eyes when they stuck on the meat?

He had to see her, so he did, lured by the bloodied offering and her never faltering record of delicious expressions. Pretty little nymph, tangled in ivy while her trees were burning. Yes, sister, you go, it is what I prefer. But that would have wrecked her. And he spent too much time loving her anticipation and worry. "Oh, Ophelia." he said, lacing his mouth with all that he knew of sympathy. There was even a bit of artificial guilt in the tremble. The book was shut, and rolled to the side so both his hands could catch her cheeks. They were soft as her orphan heart. Did she think that he would give her all the forgiveness then, and once more lavish her in the games they'd shared, those smarting privileges another man's name had taken from her? "I would never forgive you, as you are." It felt sweet to say, because surely there would be some artful constellation on her features to reward his cruelty. He kissed her forehead and lingered to drag at her scent, still holding her head. Even when he drew back to see her again, his hands remained.

She offered. Could she fix it with any effort? And he could think of more things that he wanted than there were words in his book. What a blissful game she was. Winding herself up on her own, and coming to him. His touch left her face in time for her to find his sleeve. If he'd not grown up to be this kind of spirit, he might have melted. He took the present with the hand she wasn't holding, and flicked one end open with his thumb. He bit the exposed morsel and chewed, as though lamenting some great farewell that he'd give her then.

Instead he kissed her, lapping onto her tongue the shredded mouthful he'd not swallowed yet. His breath was hot when he sucked away the blood from the corner of her lips. "You can fix it. You can turn all these shards into mortar that will keep us together forever." he promised. "I loved you, you know, at first, when I thought you were loyal." True, but it was still so. He was simply angry, scorn. Real love is not tested by slight. He would not confess to such a thing now. Curled finger underneath her chin so he could see her fully. There was still blood on his lips. There would be on his teeth too, when he spoke. It would be fitting. "Betray him." said her sibling demon. What could her kind mind possibly concoct? Deceit takes thought and time. Nathan Brandston had given her all the tools she needed already. What would she create? Would she show her soul in carrying this out?

It could be triumphant, if she did and she was successful. It could be endearing, if she tried and she failed. And it could be vexing to the point of darkening him farther, if she refused. Upheaval, was the word. He flicked her uppermost petal with his iron tongue and then nuzzled her cheek with all of his face, as though he was seeking comfort, as well. Vulnerability - do not refuse me. What does it mean when your god looks to you for comfort? Don't you owe this? Didn't you wound me? Aren't we in morning for me, already? The kiss in the angle of her jaw said that she was welcome to disappoint him again if she wanted, if that was who she was, and he'd simply know. Such an impossible child, Kvell Oleander. "I will come to you every night. You could have my love." You could only nurse him like you nurse a parasite.

And still, framed in the threshold and the arced wood for the door, stood the kind heart, waiting for her. At this distance the butler could not hope to hear them. A rare moment, when he was not required to wear a disguise. But his gait would have said it all to her, anyway. Steadfast, proper. Fixed point. If she looked back at him, he would inhale to seem larger for a few seconds, so she knew he recognized her attention, without doing something so juvenile as to wave and smile. He would take her anywhere she wanted, if she came to him. Most of all, he would ask her how she was, and then what had been said.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on September 09, 2016, 06:04:18 am
Ophelia leaned into his touch, some shade of relief on the poor girl’s face. Dear heart might have begun to learn his ways but the princess of the austere castle was still hopelessly trusting. Or, perhaps, she had honestly believed that her performance had earned the forgiveness Kvell had promised. It was unfair that he had put her astride a throne he would spite her for. Ophelia had understood that cruel twist before she’d spent herself on the butler’s wants. She had lost her full grasp of it in her urgency to win him back.

His verbal betrayal laid thick on her heart and slick on her tongue. “S-sir?” she breathed. Ever quick to give him the tears he’d grown fond of, she laid glassy spheres between her lashes. She was blinking rapidly, out of the shock or a vague will to hold in her tears. “Then change me,” she blurted when he drew away from her, fingers hooked into his sleeve like he might run from her. He took her gift and she felt he snagged her lifeline with it. Unwrapped with an idle motion and caught between his teeth.

Ophelia would have been a luckier soul had she the sense to look in on herself and digest the things she was feeding to them both. Some sad puppet begging to be made real without an eye for the consequence, as if the ache on her ribs had faded away. It wasn’t so, but that she’d learned so many deeper wounds in the last week she would have cried for joy if he’d only asked she submit for a new contract.

She gasped when he kissed her, choking on the shreds he pressed into her mouth, but unwilling to recoil. Something starved. She did shrink away when he hurled his abuses. Master of the bladed word more so than the lash, and he had proven skilled with that. Ophelia had grown up under the weight of verbal rebuke as the highest punishment. A gentle raising turned against her on her brother’s bloody lips and she couldn’t see it. “Forever?” she asked, and she wasn’t sure if she ought to sing or sob. She was loyal to her promises and loyal to her god, but there had been sanctuary in an end to all of this. Not for want of leaving Oleander; she had convinced herself there was no other home left for her ravaged maidenhood. Rather, she had contrived a dream that this was all a test with some finite end. Perhaps if she learned to love him, he would be a sweeter prince on the thirty-first day.

His forever was a prophecy that played that fantasy keenly false. And yet, malleable saint to his personal religion, any forever was better than the thought of him turning her away. “Okay, tell me, please. Let me fix it.” Ophelia said. As if there could have been a woman less suited for what she was tasked. He must have known it when he commanded and, if he did not, he would have learned quickly with the pale of her face. Her lower lip trembled and the tears she had kept carefully in the fine web of her lashes spilled over in bright streams on the alabaster skin.

“If—if you will forgive me then…” she was gasping, as if she’d already done their sweetly dedicated servant some awful ill. “I will. I will try.” She stuttered. Ophelia wore her heart too plainly on her pretty lips, her ashen cheeks. “I will try.” She repeated, to conjure determination in herself as much as to inform her beastly brother. Ophelia looked away from him, to the steadfast rooster without his plume, and let out a strangled and miserable little sob. “I will try.” And she struggled to her feet and staggered back toward him without another look at Kvell. She might have feared whatever satisfaction he might wear and what that might do to her resolve. The man accused her of fault in her loyalty, and yet she protected whatever hope there was in her to love him with a fierceness that might have even inspired Ansa.

“Nathan,” she whimpered when was close enough to reach for him, clinging to his arm with concerning abandon. But Brandston wasn’t daft and he would surely see the way her wide bister eyes begged him for forgiveness even as she tried on a smile. She was crying, still, for all that effort. If Ophelia had felt Nathan was cruel for loving her, she should have added the deepest sort of hypocrisy to her list of self-imposed sins. She visibly flinched when he asked what the master had said and would not answer until they had left the library.

“He—he said that he would forgive me.” She said. It wasn’t a lie, but she felt foul for saying it. Ophelia’s expression was a thin mask, sniffling as she attempted to swallow back her tears. “He said he just… needed more time alone…” she mumbled. As if Nathan didn’t know his master better. Whether he could anticipate the sort of awfulness she’d committed herself to hardly mattered. It had inspired her to be untruthful to him when she had confided in him but days before. All of it was betrayal, then, whether she was capable of achieving anything more insidious. Ophelia was truly miserable. Faithful girl cast into an endless spiral of begging for forgiveness, but perhaps it was what would please Kvell the most.

“I’m sorry. I don’t deserve your friendship.” She laughed helplessly, a sudden giddy welling up in a growing hysteria. “I don’t know how to do any of this.” Ophelia tangled her fingers in her hair. “I don’t want to hurt anybody.” If she had been a cleverer girl, she might have begged him to run away with her. To deliver her from Oleander. Instead she hung tightly to his arm. “Take me anywhere. I’m an awful person, but I need you right now.”

Ophelia had learned deceit from the man who had commanded her to it and no more. As she laid herself honestly into the butler’s sympathies with her distress she wondered if he would take her if he was not restrained and if he might feel as betrayed as her brother if she cried Kvell’s name against Nathan’s lips. And then she hated herself more than she’d ever hated herself before. “I-I need you right now, b-because I’m lonely and Kvell won’t be near me. But… but I hate you! Because… because Kvell wouldn’t hate me if it weren’t for you!” she burst out.

She was staring at the butler with such concentration, as if she was willing him to believe her with every fiber of her existence. It wouldn’t be so very hard to play into her pathetic and ill-conceived deceit. But, to cast the decision on him made her the worst sort of villain, of course. Just as she had begged him to help her to their demon prince.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on September 09, 2016, 05:49:33 pm
Kvell recorded the symphoricarpo treasure she hung on her framing lashes. It was bitterly clear, from the outside, where Nathan stood, that Ophelia would have found mercy in the brother if she had been a less lovely thing. If she could hide in herself, or be honest in a crude way, spilling other things than the graces her soul had been adorned with, he would have tired. His interest would have been short lived, not even a roll of the moon, and she would have been discarded with wealth and freedom. Instead she was this doll, who gave so much for his little effort. Every squeeze garnered pearls. He was particularly proud of this whim, and she gave a particularly haunting reward. Change her, he would. The deer: take my hind legs.

And she was eager, too. Ansa had said those words, but they had been a demand, an order. Ansa would have liked to be a bone tree with organ crown, if he’d only indulged them both. He was not that category of evil. A pointed shadow on the rightmost corner of his mouth. But he was an evil that would play with the love already shining in a pearly clean sister’s soul. “Forever.” He promised, truly a god speaking of gifts the pious couldn’t begin to comprehend. A forever ended yesterday. Few forevers stay intact. What a show of strength, and the need of it, when she promised to give all her efforts toward his forgiveness. Nathan was staring back when she turned. There had never been a less convincing predator than she. Kvell leaned into the hair she’d turned, and gave it the love of his face’s caress. Heat of her scalp that he fanned with two breaths. Was this the scent of her courage? “Try hard. He’ll not resist you. Every trick will work if you commit fully. Maybe you'll like it.” He said before she stood and took the walk back. If she believed, it could be so.

Kvell stroked the mask in his lap, and squeezed the red fabric as she made distance between them to become closer with Nathan. This didn’t grate on the prince very much now, because she was doing his bidding, all for his absolution. The last stain of blood fell victim to his tongue. He held the peeled parcel to his mouth and tore off another helping. Well-fed dragon.

The rooster was not so fortunate, but he was dutiful. He abandoned his waiting pose to extend toward her when she came. When she hung on him, the other arm came around her quickly. Kvell had wounded her again. Nathan knew he’d feel guilty at any set-back, but foreshadowing is not the same as suffering. What she felt was his fault, even though she’d wanted to come. In her eyes, the truth as lush as any spoken story. Another task from the Sir. What now, Kvell? He put the sentiment in his eyes when he looked over her, back at the master. You have hurt something dear to me, brother. Kvell had already returned to his book. Then he shook his head at the request written with golden letter on her brown eyes. “Nothing. It’s nothing.” He assured her, whatever it was that weighted her. Had he known the full truth, he would have given her the same answer. Dependable man. He took her from the flesh-eating spirit, sitting content.

She didn’t tell him something true when they walked. He barely heard the little lies, because he listened to her mood. All he received was distress, so all he could think to do was comfort. If he confessed to himself, he would say it was good to have her close. She was more present now after she’d gotten to meet their tormentor. It was something he’d not seen when he’d tried to entertain, and her mind had been away in the pit Kvell prepared for her. And he felt a bit the hero, bringing them from that pretty, parchment lined cave. He was not so bad as to whip her for sport, or roll her in thorns for her whimpers, but he was mesmerized by this Ophelia, sobbing in Kvell’s wake. If the infatuation slowed, he would have been ashamed. Most male souls lean toward what Kvell was, but not so far as the carnivore prince.

“He said something awful, didn’t he?” Kvell taking time alone for his sensibilities? He was the kind to halve others for imagined slights. Nathan held her hand harder, and wished it didn’t feel so good. He didn’t realize he stopped when she laughed. His cheeks colored for her animation. What contradiction had Kvell fed her, to have this reaction? She was frightening, because of the attachment she made him feel. Suddenly incomplete, if he couldn’t have and love her. And she wasn’t even bursting toward him. She was blooming every way, using too much of herself to survive the season. “you deserve so much more.” He breathed in response, and wasn’t sure she could hear when she tugged at her rosy, unmade tresses. For a moment he wanted to have the dark artistry that Kvell possessed to render something like Ophelia like this. He was just about to figure out what it must mean, that she didn’t want to bring harm to anyone, when she said she needed him. If she’d asked him plainly in that voice, he would have given her his heart to mangle, even.

The sympathy that ached in tandem with her distress mixed into something unfamiliar when it diluted itself in the love and want she was raising in him. Then she flared again, acting out in an obvious way, though the shaking did come from something real. What she said could be true enough, she certainly had enough passion afterward, playing a game she didn’t understand, but then why was it so important that he believe her? Those kind of things are spoken to be either forgiven or punished. Their content of truth, and perceived truth should not be in question. Hate him, did she? Nathan stepped into her, where they’d halted and she’d turned. He held her hard to his chest. She was warm from tears and it made her scent deeper, thicker. At least her mission was clear to him. Wretched Oleander son.

“When I was upset, Amma, a nurse long gone from this manor,” and this world. “would make me tea with honey and milk. I still have her recipe.” He said. He didn’t mean to be condescending, she had tried hard, but he’d rather not be untruthful to the girl who had taken his love without meaning to. He wiped her tears, as much of them would fit on his thumbs, and then brought her along. He didn’t wonder how his calm would make her feel. Would it soothe her, the way he intended, or would it be frustrating, his patience? Her task had not been to take refuge into his manners. He’d proven to be a harder obstacle, now.

On their way, he tapped a simple but rather large wardrobe. Clearly it was the one he’d promised her. Nathan didn’t stop. If kvell remained who he was, and wanted the same things as he always had, there would be enough tears on those clothes without needing to add to them now. After walking another while, they stopped at an equally simple door in the wall. He apologized for the lack of splendor with a crooked set on his mouth. “Used to be a maid’s station here, but we had it remade into a place I could sleep.” His home, then. “I prefer to be in the middle of things.” He informed her when he unlocked the door.

Nathan hadn’t collected artifacts and art over centuries of affluence. It was a home that had the essentials. A piece of modest modern inside this well planned museum. A sitting room sharing place with a kitchen wall. He bid her to the chair that faced a couch as he made his way to the sink. Good lighting in here. A bit sparse for center pieces, but there were pictures, bare, without frames and glass. Nathan liked to hold his memories. On a drawer, there was a photograph of himself, taken by himself, with Kvell lounging in a muddy field. It must have been after an inelegant dismount from the horse that was even further back. Humor in the air, and in the sir’s attempt at seeming unaffected by the mishap.

He took from the plants by the window in front of the faucet. The leaves floated prettily in the white liquid. The cup was worn. He did not entertain often, but his manner of serving was excellent, of course. His form might seem out of place here, even. Bowl of sugars, two colors. In fact, in the light that he freely invited into his chambers, he was a serene image. None of Kvell’s shadows. An unshakable truth. It was a bit of the world will, that the green leaf in her cup was shaped like a heart, and that he’d given it to her. Naïve as the inexperienced are, no one could doubt Nathan Brandston loved Ophelia.

He sat on the couch and looked at her, posture always open. “The milk is sweet, but you’re free to add.” The fingers in a wave toward the sugars. So, there he was, a gentle assortment of screaming weaknesses for her, only her. She would only have to ask herself what deceit she’d drag him through. His body, right there in the white cushions, because he’d willingly oblige, or his heart, that she perhaps knew better. An honest conversation would be enough. The truth, of how easily she could be his, and how much Kvell had swallowed her up instead. Paint the circumstances in crimson colors until he told her to stop. Or something carnal, that would be more surgical, perhaps more merciful, but unknown. Had she learned enough of herself and from Kvell to apply?

“What can I do for you, Ophelia?” he asked, worried, but at ease in his own territory. Desperate too, to lift her mood. He did not feel threatened by her mission, as she’d exposed it without meaning to. He was, foolishly, cavalier for himself, because not even Nathan anticipated what weapons love lends the loved. It might be clear to Ophelia, what Kvell had said. Commit. Maybe you'll like it.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on September 15, 2016, 06:45:24 pm
Ophelia gasped when he pulled her into an understanding embrace she hadn’t wanted. She thought to struggle, and tried briefly to wriggle away, but gave in when he was determined. “Wait, but, I said I hate you. I said—“ she hiccupped and tottered along with him. He was ignoring her, she thought. How unfair. “Nathan, I said it’s your fault and I hate you. What are you doing?” frustrated demand. Like she could have been spoiled, if the request weren’t pitiful.

His room was no so far from the library that she had the time to protest much. It seemed that he would not have cared overly even if she had. Ophelia’s cheeks burned hotly. She hadn’t ever been opposed like this, because she’d never really pursued much in her life worth opposing. Her wants had always been modest and her intentions acceptably genuine. Ophelia had not tasted rebellion before and certainly not its counterpoint. “Stop it!” she stamped her bare foot when he opened his door. Mother’s recipes be damned. She didn’t want his warm comforts. If he had determined to be her ally in this place, he was ruining it now.

But she was brought into his lived in spaces and it was modest and clean, appropriate to the nature she’d come to expect from him. Ophelia let herself be swept along in his plans, aghast as she was, and it was evident that Nathan was not so different from Kvell if they reflected honestly. Both men might have loved her with different strokes, bitter or sweet, but she was a doll in the hands of grown men toward either end.

She looked cross, or confused, when he handed her the cup. She peered into the soft fanning steam, breathing deeply, and was momentarily caught in the comfort of this place and this act. Ophelia set the cup down on a small table, hard. “Mr. Brandston you must stop.” She said, tongue thick. “Kvell won’t forgive me if you do this kind of thing.” And she might have believed it was all his fault, then. Never mind the cruelty of lukewarm rejection. There had been many men cast into that trap by girls disingenuous with their own hearts. I just don’t want to hurt you. I really do care. Hope, because she was herself a hopeful creature. But suffering promised at every turn. If you really love her, you will persist. The princess climbing eagerly into the dragon’s mouth. But it’s a spell. You, the hero, will win her if you endure.

If the things she said were bitter, the tea was pleasantly sweet when she took the cup back up off the table. Ophelia was prettily sullen when she went to add more sugar. Enough of that and she might be rotten. She was weak, largely because she had not learned fortitude in these matters. It leant to wretched behavior, twisted right. She might be worse because she couldn’t possibly intend to be so awful. But even the gentlest Oleander daughter had limits to her patience. Easily frustrated because she did, in fact, care. Ill-fated butler.

She set the cup down again. Ophelia had understood Kvell had forced betrayal on himself, before, by her body. And she wasn’t so dumb to think Nathan had hated it. He’d been immensely clear to the contrary. It made her angry, a first flash, that he had not fallen to her early deceit. She was sure it would have hurt them both less if he’d been compliant. “You know that, too, don’t you?” she said, and the dark, copper coin eyes wore an unfairly wounded expression. “Why would you bring me here if you know?” A genuine query.

“You shouldn’t have come, the other night. If you hadn’t come into the room he wouldn’t have made me do such unfair things.” Ophelia stood from the chair she’d been occupying and went to where he had settled on the couch. “Are you trying to torture me too?” a sudden sharp giggle. She’d begun to tremble. It was as if nobody really listened to her in this godforsaken manor. Kvell, who had never promised to, and Nathan, whose sweetness was only further tribulation. It was good she had stepped away from her warm milk. Surely she would have toppled that cup and scalded herself with her rising tide of audacity.

It was a changed woman, as if he hadn’t realized she’d been changed, that placed herself astride him then. Stared him in the eye and began to cry. Mad tears. “Really, Nathan, is this what you want? You know. You know he’ll hate me.” Vulgar girl. “I—I want to hate you for that!” she said, and it was a bit more honest. She was holding onto his shoulders, knees against the back of the couch, her hair falling around them both. “I have promises to keep and he’s my brother.” Ophelia said. Like she believed it.

“You tell me how this is going to go. How much you want this to hurt.” And the anger was burnt out because she was unaccustomed to holding that kind of taste in her mouth. She was a sad, sweet thing then. Vulnerable, hunted girl in his lap like he was the worst kind of man. Terrible because there was no question that she had been made for Kvell to break in ways Ansa never had been. “We can have this ridiculous thing you want and I can tell you I’d love you in another life, because you’re sweet and kind.” She kissed him hard then.

“But I’ll have to hate you for it and you know that. Because of your Master and mine.” She grabbed his hand and pressed it firmly against her ribs then, where Kvell’s contract was. Surely he hadn’t forgotten it, when she’d been placed bare over him to witness.     
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on September 16, 2016, 04:59:08 pm
Without real malice it was hard for Nathan to fully enjoy what the girl exuded on their way to his rooms. But not impossible. She was adorable, cut off from the stream of upset she thought she'd dug out. So much color on her when her foot made a clap on the floor. He tried to remain the calm rooster that offered her everything he could give. But his despair was not hers, not yet, so he could not serve it up as she wanted. Even this hurt him. It was a matter of pride to please others, the way he lived his life. Was his understanding expression farther grating on her? Should he be disingenuous?

He wasn't far from regretting his decision to give her a cup of boiling hot bespoke when she seemed so outside of herself. A relief to himself and the intact porcelain when it sat on the table. Relief taken away quickly, like particulates meeting loud winds, when she took Kvell back between them. He wanted to ask her, so she would ask herself, why it was impossible to live without Kvell's forgiveness. A new comfort for him, who bit his tongue, when she took more sweet to the drink he'd offered. Sweet tooth in sweet mouth.

But the accusation he couldn't absorb so easily, not even when she wrapped it in a question. Because he saw she wasn't acting, wasn't building something. She truly wondered what the reason could be for bringing her here, since she though it could not solely be to help her. "I know I saw you hurt. I know you were trying to feel better. I know that tea." he said. The gesture was meant to be a little unfolding of his hands, the way he'd point out paintings and wooden details and good, curious things. It became a flick instead, and it had more power than he intended. Was she upsetting him? Well, it was upsetting for her to doubt him, when he'd already allowed her to practice her claws on him that she might be a emissary for Kvell's broken sense of entitlement.

"Ophelia." he held on to the couch, the cushion offering resistance but his squeeze was too determined. He did not want to hear her speak ill of the night they'd been together. Knowing she'd not felt the same as he was enough, he'd suffered that clarity, but he was not going to stand for the blame, because believing he was at fault was too close to his heart, already. He held the words that would set her right when she stood, and shook his head as though he knew the next thing she said would hurt him. "I would never torture you." Why was his voice so strong on this? It was silenced by her giggle, a delicate sound bringing havoc. She was unraveling in all the ways she should not. He wanted to gather her up from the floor and weave her back together.

Nathan shrunk into the support of the back of the couch when she had her legs by his sides again. She felt like some great calamity, who'd never promised to be as gentle as her packaging seemed. Still, it is hard to treat a dagger poorly, with a flower on its tip. Nathan Brandston could not willingly toss Ophelia Oleander to the floor. His head shook again, like some lost wanderer at the growling clouds. Did he secretly, deeply, wish for her to be at odds with Kvell by showing her kindness? Was his heart so cunning? Hers was an effective deceit, finally, and none of them knew fully, yet. If the ones that are kind find their kindness poisoned, what are they then? Sitting down still, he'd lost his footing.

Kvell had wanted this for Ophelia.

"Must you keep such promises?" he asked the tempest in his lap. Must you talk of him as though he is absolute? She was darkly drawing, but full of spikes. He'd not known she could be this, but she had not changed the way a coin changes with a turn. Somehow this was still the orphan girl, but more. Other. He didn't want her to hurt at all, and he was going to shout it at her. Silly woman, to believe that! But she became her soft again. Perhaps that was worse. It made his stomach churn, his righteousness spin back at his own heart. He cried into her lips when she offered them. Down his chin and onto her dress. Proof that she'd done well. Proof she could take back to their master. The butler wanted it back, and clawed at her clothing for it. But that molestation wasn't nearly enough to dry up the truth. He took refuge deeper into their kiss, and thought it tasted like desire, on her part, because that was what he wanted to find. Perhaps if he could show her the act could be loving he'd win her over. She'd not known his touch, only his lust. The sentiment warmed him toward that dream.

When she held his hand to her, where he knew she carried the inky branding that made her truly someone else's, Nathan shook his head a third time. She said the same things she'd told him from the very start. Something had to shift for his hope, but nothing would. She wouldn't let it. "Just believe in me the way you believe in him!" he begged. He couldn't retreat any more, only cry, so his arm extended to give him the distance he needed, so her feelings wouldn't snuff him. Unintentional men are still strong. Perhaps some frustration in there that felt a lot like wrath. She could land on the floor or over the table. She could even fall onto its edge in an unfortunate way. If there was a mar it could be fuel for her accusations. At the moment he did not have the forethought. He would be devastated if he hurt her, of course, scrambling to collect her, and whispering denial that he was this man.

With all this ruckus, as though her distress and her acting upon it in such a thespian way had given off a perfume that he could follow, their looming shadow knocked on the door. It could have been any knuckles tapping any short song, but it also could not be, the way it sounded uncaring but insistent. "Go away!" Nathan would call from whichever state he'd be, above her, against her. Kvell would not enter because of that, but such patience came from an assumption that he would still be let in by the girl.

What a petty, pretty scene he would lay out for both of them, if she went against Nathan's wishes and came. It was her distant and cruel, selfish brother, after all, who'd made the effort to come. Perhaps because of her. Wasn't that all she wanted, such approval? And in the door frame he would dote on her distress, and take what report she'd like to give, see the proof, be it moist of tears or blood. But his satisfaction would be written on Nathan's face instead, that rooster in shambles. Feathers in disarray because he'd fallen for Ophelia's honest ruse, somehow.

How much Kvell would enjoy kissing her forehead, gentle as she’d not gotten form him, and wrap his arms around her. Hand in that hair, too long. “Schh, little sister.” A dear whisper. He needed to reward obedience, and she’d not had this kind of treat before. A delay in his caress, cheek to hers, because he was channeling sadness at her hurt. “He hurt you?” low but Nathan could hear. “You’re a good girl, though. Don’t worry.” If there was any scratch or cut he could see, he would drag his tongue over it. “But you hurt him, too.” Praise. Her head to him, held close, so she could benefit from his steady as he looked at Nathan, frozen by the sitting area. No, Nathan. You have hurt something precious to me. Kvell would only have begun, too. After all, Nathan had not gotten to watch Ophelia with another, yet, not the way Kvell had. “Is there any other place he touched you?” he’d ask, tugging at a her dress with intent. Ophelia wasn’t in tune with the uses of her beauty, but perhaps she understood there is visible deceit, too. She could tattle on Nathan, and show privacies he’d accidentally graced or not at all, to play along with her brother. Kvell would dance her into a turn, that she would be facing the rooster. If she did not start ridding of her dress in her new found ballistic madness, he would wander down her neck with his lips, and free her from the cloth himself.

Of course, if Nathan’s rejection of his role in her suffering in the pursuit of his own kindness had instead rendered her unable to flit to the door, the butler would be livid. He would hang Ophelia, unmoving on his arms and call for Kvell loudly, scared. And the brother would come in like a storm between mountains, stealing her quickly from the ill-fitted playmate and bring her away to the infirmary. The sir would be angry because of worry, and Nathan would feel cold, following, guilt poisoning his posture. Every time he’d try to see her, touch her over Kvell’s shoulder, the master would make a sound or move faster. The sir would try the salts first to wake her up, on the bed that only Ansa had laid on. And then he would backhand Nathan before checking vitals, fast becoming undone from memories of how the first sister had been lost to harsh games, as well.

Nathan would be inconsolable, finally praying low to the brother. Because he’d have to believe.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on September 19, 2016, 01:19:10 am
She was a sort of reckless the Ophelia of a week ago would not have recognized. Trying on sins she had no skill in and making them more dreadful and pretty because of it. Ophelia felt the wet salt drip from his chin and felt shame and triumph. If this were the sort of thing Kvell had thought she might like, he was deeply mistaken. She wanted him to take back those tears, too, and did not protest the way he grabbed at her dress.

“But you are torturing now, like I am torturing you,” she said and was gasping and laughing again. Bewildered, shaken breaths that tasted like a little hysteria. “And I don’t have a choice, but you do. My promises are written.” She told him, and pushed his fingertips harder into the bruised places on her ribs. Ophelia made herself whimper and was sure she deserved that much punishment, at least.

“I do believe in you, Nathan Brandston. That’s why you torture me. Same as the Master.” Like she was a servant in this house. Ophelia was not surprised by his tears, nor her own. She had not expected him to push her away, though. But then, he had been bound to her bed last she was placed astride him. There was nothing holding her now. Ophelia had not compensated for such a shove, though, and went toppling from him with wide eyes and a deeper wound. Was it selfish that she did not try to break her own fall?

She hit the edge of the table and slumped to the floor. China doll. China cups unseated. A clatter and crash and the milky tea stained the table like blood. Porcelain shards falling and another edge to her tear-streaked face, above the brow, milky skin staining with blood. Big fat drops, first, deep crimson for her lashes, and then a heavier stream as head wounds are accustomed. Ophelia blinked at him, groggy, red cracks on the doll’s face. She’d bumped her head hard, too. It happens, when it’s unexpected.

She blinked at her rooster without his plume, lips catching rust, and tried one of those sad smiles on for him. They were his now, it seemed, quite exclusively. “Did it work then? Have I betrayed you?” she asked quietly. “Does that mean he’ll come for me?” It was well that she wasn’t so very hurt as to require a panic, but the injury was such that it felt tragic and grave. Perhaps it was too much of their hearts, then, raw and split, that had fallen. Like a good demon prince, his knock was well timed. A tolling bell for whatever scene had died there.

Ophelia frowned, but was dizzy and unsure to move. The fine cut above her eye continued to bleed, eager wells of rosy slick, and the way it smelled made her feel faint. When he came to her, swept her up, she took her smile away from Nathan and gave it to Kvell. “I tried,” she mumbled, head falling against his chest. He should not have been what brought her comfort, and yet this evening was precisely opposed to what it should have been. Nathan to injure her and Kvell to console her. It was her own fault, of course. She’d been looking for this. But Oleander Manor still made no sense.

As he carried her to the infirmary to address the happy wound on her pale face, she slipped into unconsciousness on the way. Half exhaustion and half the throbbing ache she’d earned from the corner of the table. Perhaps her slumber was worrisome to the men. She would not wake for the smelling salts, but her vitals would read robustly. Nothing to fear. None the less, she would not wake for dinner nor through the whole night.

When it was finally time for her to stir, the next morning, she would not know to expect her own bed or the infirmary. Or Nathan’s quarters or Kvell’s. If she was alone, she would be frightened and wonder if she had been left abandoned by both brother and butler. If she had company, it was not unlikely that she would begin to cry. Relief, or frustration, or a cocktail of misplaced emotions. 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on September 19, 2016, 08:07:07 pm
Nathan was wounded about what she said, with her still on him. Was he the only free agent in this game? She, with her religious attachment to a dark figure. And the unmovable deity himself. Brandston couldn’t bring himself to believe it. There had to be more for him than the endless task of cushioning Kvell’s cruelty. She hurt him the most when she did not believe in her own choice. Or maybe that was the depth of her devotion. Perhaps such devotion should tell the butler something about his possible role in all this. And it should show him his heart, as well, when it darkened with desire, not for her to be cured of such ability to worship, but that her subject change. If he were to argue for the quality of his soul, he might have said that she’d offered no other affection, perhaps she was capable of no other, and that he’d rather have that than none. A pang in the bottom of his stomach reached to tug at his diaphragm with want. Perhaps his hand that had shot out, into the contract she insist he touch, had been to reject the notion that she believed in him. How could it possibly be so when she’d given all her faith’s gold away? Insult, not comfort, if she’d meant it at all. How cathartic it felt to indulge in the impulse. His first taste of violence mingled with delight. This time it was unintentional, reactive.

She was pretty in a way he tried not to see when she toppled. The panic grew with the generosity of the wound. But he also felt attached to the blood, because he’d drawn it on her lovely face. So fixed was he at her and the emotions she showed with her delicate sit on the floor, by the table with its milky blood, that it took a few moments for his worry to win and push him into action. Again the head of staff shook his head. No! You most certainly have not betrayed me. But he didn’t believe it, or he believed that he was the betrayer, here, and the doubt conjured their common demon. Nathan saw the large beauty hurry over, like a shadow grows from the corner when you drop a candle.

The supposed kind man reached for Ophelia and her blood, that he might wipe it for her finally, but Kvell lifted her with the same speed. The butler’s hand was always a few lashes away from the raspberry luxury he’d spilled. Kvell wore such judgment on his noble details that it made Nathan want to shrink or attack. If he stood with hard, justified intent, he followed with a heavy conscience.

Kvell carried her easily, and nodded at her. She wasn’t some Machiavellian creature, she only knew how to do harm to others if she mirrored it in herself. Fortunate for her Nathan harbored exactly the kind of adoration that would make that an effort effective. “And you did well.” The darkness whispered onto the gossiping cut, giving her ruby secrets onto her face. Swiftly all three made it to the sick bed. She was fast away, in her slumber, and Nathan mourned her, sitting by the bed while Kvell saw what he could do, which in the end was only confirm her state. Even the reaches of the master’s malice weren’t enough to leave Nathan how he was. Kvell touched his shoulder, the back of his neck. “To be honest, Nathan, do you really think this is something? I could think you’ve been blind, raising Ansa and me, if you’ve not seen worse.” Little comfort, but Nathan wasn’t used to much.

“And what will you do now, then, when you’ve driven her to me, so she could be hurt, so I could be hurt?” the lighter being asked, looking bitterly at the lord closing cabinets and licking the red tips of his fingers. Kvell also sampled Nathan’s tone in the air, and thought the chill paired nicely with her salt and iron. Not his favorite, though. His expression gave that much, and it angered the butler. “You’re just going to continue playing with her, aren’t you?”

“Funny you should say. I was going to reward her with a game of little red and the wolf, tomorrow.” Kvell replied, deliberately leaving a little note of her on the corner of his lips when he grinned at his friend. Nathan was lured, and stood quickly, barreling over to take hold of the expensive collars and push Kvell into the wall between cabinets. Kvell laughed and Nathan pulled back to slam him against the wall again.

“You’re going to do nothing of the sort, you sorry bastard.” He hissed and threw his arm toward their sleeping girl, over there. “She’ll put herself in the grave for you, if you play these games. What do you want from her, Kvell?”

Kvell looked with black eyes over at his newest doll. She was peaceful. Then he looked at Nathan, and the grin returned. “I just want her to love me.” It earned the back of his head another forceful visit to the wall.

“She loves you. If she doesn’t tell you it’s because she doesn’t understand it herself.” Nathan let go but only to hurl a curved arm and it’s fist into Kvell’s stomach. Kvell coughed and bent before he rested back on the wall, laughing quietly. “No. You’re going to be kind to her tomorrow. I want to see her happy.” Nathan said. “I’ll wear the mask you want, so you’ll wear one for me. You’ll pretend you’re not a coal souled villain.” He planted another punch just when Kvell lifted his own arm from where the first had landed. The lord almost fell to his knees then, and couldn’t laugh as much. Nathan held him up by the shoulder of his jacket so their eyes could meet. Nathan pointed at him. “You do this or we’re not brothers.” And Kvell awoke from his amusement.

“Alright.” He said and shoved the butler back. He wiped the wrong side of his mouth, spittle, not blood. “Maybe I’ll be a soft, beige host tomorrow for you.”

“For her.”

“But then I want something from you, brother.” The endearment was dragged out, petty. Kvell stood up quickly, the strength in his heritage clear when he swiftly handled Nathan, who struggle out of reflex, all the way to her bed. Kvell locked his friend’s arms behind his back and bent him over their beloved. Kvell controlled the head by holding on to Nathan’s hair. “Look at her. I’ll show you something. We’re speaking fairy tales lately, and I’ll try to make a point.” He said and held the light hair looser. “Give her a kiss.” Nathan tried not to want to, but eventually, in this vice, gave her a soft peck on the lips. Kvell then proceeded to toss Brandston to the floor. “She’s a beauty, and she is sleeping, and you kissed her.” He noted and started moving out. “But she didn’t wake up, did she, princely? She awoke to something when I kissed her. Perhaps you could understand something from this.”

Nathan stayed with her for a few hours until Kvell came back.

-

As Kvell shared the room with no one, he rested his head on his palm while he examined her with alert eyes. Truly she was lovely with a bandage around her head. Her rosy hair complimented the pale gauze so well. “Love me, do you?” he asked the sleeping woman, making her responsible for what Nathan had promised. He drew a line over her lower lip. “Then why did you leave me.” Same conversation they’d had the first time they’d met. With all of nothing for answer, he shrugged out of his jacket and ruffled his hair. The good tailoring served as a blanket for her. There were real comforters for that purpose, here, but he figured Nathan would appreciate the theatrics. Like the demon that he was, he placed an arm over her stomach and fell asleep on it, too, sure to do so with a soft expression.

When morning came, and he woke before her, he blew softly on her chin to beckon her toward the world of the waking, again. He would let her stir, that she might think it was she that had woken him. As with all beauties, Kvell was a soft pleasant in the morning, skin not so taut and lemonade light brimming in the valleys of his handsome. While his eyes could not fade, she could see the details of the fibers tightening the pupils when they opened. Intimate, at this distance. A sleepy blade of hair over one clear eye. Circumstances always conspired to make Kvell more beautiful. “Good morning.” He said and moved up, squeezing her hand. “I wanted to see you, first thing.” He said with a smile he borrowed from a lover that had fallen too deeply in love with him, too fast. A touch caught her cheek and held it for a moment. “How is your head? Any hallucinations?” He laughed, pretending amusement at the thought. It was so bad that he could be so gentle. “What would you like to see if you had any? A softer home, a kinder brother?” he dropped his head, wretched, flawless act, perhaps because he had a well of guilt others imagined for him, that he could gather from. “Maybe today we’ll try for those things.” A fittingly naïve ‘right?’ in his expression.

He was undone in his unrehearsed deceit when she started crying. It should be expected though it wasn’t. He had lead her through quite some hardship, yesterday. Kvell let her have her hands for her eyes, if she need to hide or touch the tears. The brother moved even closer, sat by her and held her after he’d shifted her to sit on his lap. With his current mission, and true affection for her, nothing stopped him from rocking her a little, and kissing her on her bandage. Most of all he wanted to play with the still hot, wet dread on her cheeks. It was his understanding such a thing would not be sympathetic. “Oh, little Ophelia. What a crook I’ve been. You have to forgive me.” He said and put his lips where the wound had been. It was such a piece of art though, his tousled sister making watery pearls in his lap. One arm kept her tightly, while the other petted her side, where the contract was. Perhaps tomorrow, or some day soon, he could cause her to cry again.

Nathan, who had decided to wear the smallest mask he’d been given, and on top of his head – creativity, not a lie – came in with tiers of the same silver pastry, and a silver tray of tea. When he saw Kvell pull back from what must have been a feather soft kiss, Ophelia in his lap, he suddenly realized the risk of this venture. Wouldn’t it be the worst outcome, if Kvell were such a masterful actor today? What if Ophelia thought her life her had changed? What if this farce would hurt her even more, when Kvell returned as he was, tomorrow? Suddenly Nathan wanted the larges mask on, so he could at least show his dread to the inside of it, and wallow in anxiety. Instead he had to act the kind butler, holding breakfast by the side of the threshold. So both her men were false, this morning. Nathan had to bite the tip of his tongue so he wouldn’t come and wipe her tears. Admittedly, the siblings were picturesque like this. Ophelia was cute, morbidly so, with her gauze.

Kvell held her harder when he turned to see Nathan. It would be perfectly unsettling to Brandston to hear Kvell speak with excitement, while his eyes only held mockery, since he was turned away from Ophelia. “Look! It’s Nathan. And he brought treats.” He gave his attention back to Ophelia quickly, and crossed both her hands so he could squeeze them in both of his. “He knew how to be with you, all this time, when I didn’t.” he kissed her knuckles as though he could suck absolution for his vile acts from them. Absolution is cooling and a bit salty. She’d been taught to forgive in the home. Perhaps he could tap in to that. “But I’ll be better, starting today.” And ending today. He propped her up against the bedboard, his jacket still over her legs. Would she notice that this bed, too, had rings? This was Ansa’s infirmary, after all. “These are new.” He said and patted his shoes to the floor which immediately brought Nathan over, laying out the shimmering food for them on the small table. The cups were steaming. The silver of the pastries was a bit duller than what sugared silver dust should have been. “Here.” He’d made sure the bakers had put everything they’d learned she liked in them. It was paramount she like these particular sweets. He would insist if he had to. Not even Nathan knew about this ploy. During the serving of one pretty morsel, he’d include his finger again. This time he’d pretend to be hurt if she bit him, and then laugh to assure her he was not.

If she would have it, Kvell had the intention to take her in a car to the woods. He didn’t mind showing her more of the manor, either. Last time, in the library, she’d not gotten to see much. It was an adventure in its own, leading down to catacombs of books. All of this he promised her. He would let her choose. But first he gave her some time to get changed. He preferred to get out of yesterday’s ensemble, too. During breakfast, she would notice that he’d sneak a peck wherever, and whenever he could, if the small talk allowed for it. Even Nathan couldn’t distinguish his behavior from one truly smitten, and a monster wearing he guise of a lover. Wasn’t Kvell’s foremost weapon that he was both?

Nathan was to follow her back, as he had the right attire already, pushing her in a chair if she was too weak, yet, to walk for herself. If her spirits were high, he would be distressed, holding Kvell’s jacket for her, since she’d inherited it, now. The corridors were light when his conscience wasn’t. The lovely he’d tasked himself with protecting would most likely not know what was going on, sans Kvell’s charm. Was he only signing her demise? “Perhaps you should rest today, Ophelia.” He said, smile prepared if she’d look at him. Nathan also had morning beauty. It was hard not to sound as though he was trying to keep brother and sister a part, that he could have her to himself. She could remember how he’d almost foiled her yesterday, with kindness, then. Perhaps that was part of this, today, too. If she suspected he was cunning, he wasn’t sure she’d be entirely wrong. “It’s unusual for Kvell to be this way. Better not trust too much in it. And wouldn’t you feel better if you got some rest? I can get you books and music.” In fact, Nathan would love for a day like this, instead. He could guard her door, and know if Kvell was being nefarious.

Being what he was, he’d have no choice but to follow her toward whatever decision she settled on. And he would make sure he did so, even if his advice caused some sourness now.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on September 29, 2016, 03:30:22 am
Ophelia made a production of expressions when she woke to Kvell’s newly gentle expression. First fear because she expected a trick, then relief because she was not alone, then something altogether lovely and tearful when his tone suggested that she had earned her forgiveness at last. Fat, overwhelmed tears. If it had not been for how perfectly disheveled, bandaged and sleep-tousled, she was her crying might have bordered on unseemly. She sniffled and hiccupped and trembled, falling so eagerly into his him when he held her with her fists to her glittering wet lashes.

“A-anything you want,” she sobbed of his plea for forgiveness. Like it hadn’t occurred to her to make him work for it the way she’d been made to work for the same. That kind of thinking would have required her to consider it was a dishonest opine from the Master’s lips though, and Ophelia was at least five times as good at lying to herself as she was at lying to anyone else. “I’m just s-so happy,” more hiccups. Because you have forgiven me. And she looked at him with her wide, docile, doe eyes and he could have been the world.

When Nathan came, the infirmary spell was cracked, if not broken. She glanced at him, and looked briefly ashamed to have him see her such a way. Ophelia might have made it plenty clear that she had chosen her brother over a more suitable lover, but she admitted her fondness for the butler and that had been true. She was not the kind of cruel that Kvell was, to enjoy parading their morning closeness in Mr. Brandston’s face.

It was bewildering to her to hear the way Kvell spoke now, promising her the sweetness Nathan had offered so naturally. She didn’t know what to make of it, because she had not thought it was acceptable to see the Oleander Prince in such a light. Like it might be an insult to the beautiful demon. It was certainly not that the idea displeased her; for whatever new inclinations Kvell had begun to impress upon her she was a naturally gentle spirit. She stared at her rooster without his plume and it was a question. Ought she believe the lovely things from their Kvell’s tongue? He must know, she thought. Would he feel guilty if he played along with Kvell’s pretend?

Ophelia did not wait to see Nathan’s responding expression for long, giving in to a simple happiness when Kvell fussed over her to help her into a comfortable position. She felt a bit like a doll then and was not opposed to it. She had not changed so much in the last week, either, that she was beyond being delighted by an offering of sweets. Her tears had dried and she pressed her palms to her cheeks. “They are beautiful!” she gasped, and looked between the men appreciatively. Ophelia did not know what shimmering silver sweets ought to look like and could not have known to be dissatisfied with them in any way. Or concerned.

She fell easily to the trick with his finger, again, silly girl that she was. The small shock was quickly overridden by Kvell’s theatrics, which earned him frantic fussing from the girl who had bled for him day after day. When she did realize he had tricked her, she blushed in embarrassment because she felt she had been foolish. Ansa would have been a lovely sort of sullen. She probably would have made a point of biting down on Kvell’s finger the next time, too. For her part, Ophelia was exceptionally dainty with the rest of the pastries, just in case.

When her brother suggested a trip into the woods, she became excited. In her defense, curious aspects of such a suggestion aside, she had not had the opportunity to leave the grounds of the manor since she had arrived. While she had not considered thoroughly whether she should want to leave, either now or at the termination of their contract, she was understandably enthusiastic for the change of pace. She remained happy and blushing for the duration of their breakfast, taking her sweets and light kisses with equal delight. Ophelia might not have understood that she loved her brother already, but she had learned that the alternative to his affections was a terrifyingly cold rejection that had nearly left her breathless.

Ophelia was insistent upon walking back to the room, though she did not seem entirely steady on her feet. Her wound had not been exceptionally bad, but she had bled profusely. Beyond that, it had resulted in her skipping supper the night before. When she and Nathan were alone, she smiled softly for him. “Thank you, Nathan. I’m truly sorry for yesterday. I was cruel. I probably deserved this,” she said, light fingertips to her gauzy circlet. “But I think that maybe Kvell has actually forgiven me. Maybe, because I tried hard, we’re closer now. Don’t you think? It would be nice to rest, but maybe it’s good that I go with him if the mood is so nice like this, no?” she asked him. Too much hope in that voice. She must have realized it too, because she cleared her throat and looked away. “I mean, that is… well I… don’t want to be hurtful to you. But I’m happy too, right now.” She said carefully.

They had reached her room though, and she did not stay with him in the hall to hear options for amending that state. Ophelia did not wish to be hurtful to him, but part of her knew she would be. It wasn’t something she was proud of and she preferred not to linger on it. That alone made her feel a bit dirtier, because she was again taking advantage of Mr. Brandston’s kindness. “You don’t have to answer me when I ask questions like that. It was thoughtless of me. I’m sorry.” She apologized again and then went into Ansa’s room and shut the door behind her.

It might have been fate that she selected a scarlet dress, simple in design and made of a rich but unembellished velvet. The collar of the little gown was such that it enhanced the modest provision of her chest in a rather 18th century fashion, feminine and lovely. The full skirt fell above her knees, as Ansa’s dresses seemed designed almost exclusively for. The whole thing would have looked sweet and vaguely antique if it weren’t for the modern leather harness that had been paired with the bodice. It wove an intricate pattern across her, meeting at junctions with silver rings that echoed the hoops on Ansa’s bed. A black lace shawl softened what the leather had given an edge and she was a fine embodiment of Oleander manor itself, caught in the refined space of old money with modern injection.

 She stepped back out of her room to where she was sure Nathan was still waiting and twirled once for him on her bare toes. Ophelia had done her hair up into a high ponytail that swirled around her shoulders when she spun. “Do you think he’ll like it on me? Do you?” she asked. “I thought maybe it wouldn’t suit me like it suited her.” She smiled at the butler again. “Maybe this evening… if you have books you recommend, that would be really nice.” She said. An honest gesture because he was not the only one concerned he had offended.

Nonetheless, she was eager to be on her way back to her presently docile Wolf; Little Red with the black cape. When she was brought back to Kvell, she was quick to go to his side and to keep a very polite degree of space between herself and Mr. Brandston when they approached. She was still trying hard. If Kvell didn’t notice it, there was no doubt that Nathan would.   

Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on September 29, 2016, 07:00:51 pm
Her brother was not immune to her charm the way a monster ought. He enjoyed her tears, and fully submerged his heart in the crying that she treated him to, in his lap. He was even able to take in her suffering, its size clear by the effects of its absence, her hiccuping celebration. But he ate it, and ran it between a particular organ that lies between the soul and the body. He did not make her suffering his own. What a delightful doll, dancing when he whistled, always soaring above his expectations. If he’d thought her lovely had been to her determent before, he was growing certain it would be a crucial part of her destruction, now. Anything you want. Happy. What scrumptious music, Ophelia.

When the rooster came, Kvell challenged him, when Ophelia looked to the honest man for answers. The brother made sure Nathan’s eyes fell away before they could say too much. If she saw that, it might as well have been discretion. For all that she knew, it could have been butler’s proper, even. In the dark, you’re blind, and today Kvell was providing a blindfold and making Nathan tie it taut. Kvell went on to be disproportionately delighted by her appetite for the silver treasures, and all but purred when she fussed over his finger. He wanted to hurt himself badly, cut parts off, maybe, for that kind of care. It would be the most agreeable thing he could do for her love, he though, and wagered quietly that Nathan might agree. Kvell saw her off as though he lived in the infirmary. There was no doubt that he would be gone later.

Nathan was left to deal with her unreasonably elevated spirit. His discontent should smolder just beneath her attention, as though he was debating whether to put out a fire that insisted it wanted to burn. He wanted to caress around the wound he’d given her, too, when she brought her own fingers to it. “It is I who have been cruel. I did that to you. I’m so sorry.” Vibrato. His chest continued to rot when she, with her logic learned from the world outside, hoped that her efforts might be matched with Kvell’s favor. Perhaps if her brother wasn’t such a demon in these matters. It pleased Kvell to see her in pain, and on this walk, it was painful to Nathan to see her so happy. “Not at all.” Was all he had for her when she apologized and went inside Lady Ansa’s room.

While waiting he resigned himself to witnessing her fate. There were many days left, he said to his inner ear, even if this day rippled with badness, he should be able to help her overcome it, and his own guilt at the same time, with diligence. There was strength in his spine and his trademark kindness for her on his face when she opened the door. But then her lovely, mingled with the taut and salty flavor that red and black and skin brings to a man’s tongue, made his lower lip lax with horror for an unattended moment. How carelessly she spun, so unlike Ansa despite being her copy, that he barely thought of the resemblance at all. Attitude is everything. He felt her destiny was steering her, then, to have dressed so close to the playmate Kvell had really wanted, today. “You mustn't…” he said, unguarded tongue, before he somehow took his wits back and pulled at her cape to bring it closed around her. “c-catch cold.” He said. “But today looks warm enough.” Save this girl. Because she will not save herself. “And of course he’ll like you.” That much was true, too true. What predator doesn’t like things clad in blood? He only nodded about the books. Evening seemed like such a journey away.

Kvell had also changed. Hair back, without the rouge strands in front or at the sides, and gray workwear trousers, never used. Shirt of darkest blue underneath black jacket. Black gloves and black boots. He looked with surprise to Nathan after having seen Ophelia’s choice of attire. Where the brother stood, holding the door to the car, he welcomed them. “Why, this is hardly fair, my lady.” He said and kissed her hand after having spun her, the skirt lifting enough to make the butler look away. “But I do enjoy temptation like this.” He continued and drew his gloved finger over her cheek. “You mustn’t blame me later for sitting close, though.” As though sitting close was the way Kvell courted things he wanted.

After helping her in, he teased Nathan about her wear, and Nathan assured their master that she’d somehow picked it all herself. “Ah. Even better.” Kvell said for her to hear when he got in. Maybe it sounded to her as though Kvell, with his light tone, was trying to lift Nathan’s mood, too. Nathan replaced the driver, as Kvell had suspected he would, and they were on their way. He did sit close, after the gloves came off. In fact, he crowded her, and wouldn’t stop until she was nestled between himself and the door. He wasn’t shy about the fact that this was his design, as his eyes did not leave her for the entire plot.

“So, Ophelia, did you always shimmer like this?” he asked, playful, as he lowered his forehead to touch hers exactly where the cut wasn’t. It so happened they were right in the angle of Nathan’s mirror, as well. “Or are you wearing fairy dust for me, so I’ll let you return to your life as a forest nymph?” Whimsical, because beasts are. “I don’t think I’ll allow it, though.” Hand on her corset, pushing so she’d feel additional pressure on her stomach, wedge her further into the seat. Intimate, possessive. With the green shadows distorting and passing his face from outside their glass, he might be a more agreeable form of forest monster, then. Perfect lure. “You make your brother quite gluttonous.” Would she know all of these were compliments? Surely, if she listened to the tone, she would suspect, at least. Greed is a compliment to the gold. All sins are like that. Her knowledge of what a brother should be, and what she should want from one, had become irrevocably askew, anyway. Fortunate for her, in some sense, that today’s cruelties were only a menu of delights. Or so the ill contained beast thought.

Nathan knew where to take them. Ansa didn’t like this clearing. It had grass instead of wooden chips, it had soft earth where there could be sharp rocks. It was a perfect barefoot paradise that she’d not wanted when Kvell presented it to her. But Ophelia was not pretty because she was mad. She was simply just pretty. “Ah, here.” Kvell said, having imposed himself on her, his lips touching hers as he spoke. “Your beauty wasn’t in time to spoil me before we arrived.” He said and opened her door, fully aware that she’d spill out, pressed like this. With one hand latched over the back of the leather she’d rested on, and the other arm a quick hook around her waist, he caught her before she could land on the ground. They were both hanging out of the car now. “Clumsy.” Me, you.

With elegance mine-money could afford its nobility, he stepped out of the car with her still against him, which of course was made endlessly more intimate with the prohibition of her undergarments. Then he walked around the vehicle to add sway into her, that he could open the trunk and bring along a basket larger than she’d seen, so far. He put her down because he had to, eventually, but kept her hand. “I’ve designed these parts myself.” He bragged, throwing his arm at the forest around them. Flowers growing through some trees, strangely intact bodies of water. Rocks that weren’t native. “It’ll be good for your feet.” He said and let go of her hand.

It was now her job to explore, and his to carry the basket after her. He had information for her, about inspiration, and how some of the flowerbeds were originally planted to mirror the constellations above, but those seeds had their own life, and the lilies meant to make the stars and the foregetmenots playing the part of the black sky were too unruly for their gardener. Now they were simply vanilla and viola buffets siren calling from their diffuse puddles. She would find that some of the rocks were smooth and perfect heights for her to sit or lay on. If Nathan had been allowed to come, he would have tried to keep her away from them, if Kvell lingered close. Whichever path she chose, eventually she’d find herself at a spring. Fog suggesting heat. It was as well meant in its conception as it had become nefarious, now.

This place was riddled with traps. Vines hung like curtains from some trees - his wealth had bought nature itself - and some trunks were wound with chains. Their shallow rust made it all the more romantic industrial. He dropped the basket. “Here seems like a good place.” he said, as though she’d found this place for them, and had not been led here by the world he’d designed. “We should play, since you make me so full of games.” He said and took out a small pastry, immortalized in amber, from the basket. But he’d made a promise to Nathan. “Today is not the day you try the big game. But I think you’re ready for some lighter tomfoolery, at least.” He said and tossed it to her. His familiarity during their walk had carefully loosened her cape, and he knew the outwear would fall off her if her arms lifted to secure the clear, gold treasure he’d sent in an arc through the air for her.

If she didn’t understand already, the loss of his jacket and his menacing crouch should make the game rather plain. He would set after her, making sure to miss on his first leap, so she’d know to flee. A man like Kvell could be menacing in the forest for a slight, barefooted girl. But he wasn’t roaring or snarling. A few huffs, animalistic enough, when she twisted out of his reach. He wanted her entertained, he wanted her laughing. He’d catch her, sometimes, loosely, that she could escape, barely, to keep her breath in her throat and her adrenaline plentiful. But eventually, he would capture her fully, and tickle her. Kvell was this bad creature, never mind a promise. So he’d tickle her for glee first, and then attended to her ribs and pits and neck and thighs until she couldn’t breathe, until there were tears for the distress that comes with too much of this stimulation and lack of breath. And then he’d kiss her better, and push her on her feet again.

In the end the vines would take her, like web waiting for a young dragonfly. They had tasted Oleander twin blood before. They were eager to dig into her skin as their cousins had done in the labyrinth. He had designed them so, placed them for such purpose. If she had not stuck with her arms up, he would pretend to try and get her loose, pretend at failure,  until he’d hung her arms together above her head, her feet lifted above the forest floor to make her just the right height for him. It was a very cruel way of suspending someone, but it was one of his favorites, because of it. Nymph indeed, betrayed by the forest. To think he still considered this kindness, a dear outing.

“Scchhh, little fawn, or the vines will bleed you more.” He said and carefully, finally, pried the preserved sweet out of her hand and put it in his pocket. They would not go to grand ma-ma. “I win.” He declared and kissed her softly, hand on her waist to squeeze at her corset again. “We can’t get you lose, the thorns are in love with you, too. But if we can make your blood run faster they won’t be able to hold on.” Thinly veiled. He kissed her a little more, a bit oppressive, a bit of truth about the monster that he was. As though it was a normal staple of love-making, he locked fingers around her throat. She still had room inside for oxygen in, out. She simply needed to learn love should be severe.

He played with her with his other hand, the way he’d learned she liked. Lips on hers, on her face, on her ear. He caressed the blood at the thorns, her skin there, and drew that hand over his own lips. He sampled her like this until his mouth was smeared with his real image. How did he taste when he kissed her, now? It was unfair to Nathan, Kvell’s knowledge of her body, his knowledge of the act. And he proceeded to wash that first time out of her memory, loving her against the suspension of thorns with freedom an accuracy Nathan had not had. If she struggled it’d make it sweeter for both. She must learn to take pain and pleasure, and confuse them, and adore them.

It was rather theatrical, her crimson, the forest frame, the dark brother. Without intending to, he’d directed and made quite the image for Nathan’s heartbreak. He’d followed, tame rooster in the woods, and watched from a distance with a corroding heart, while the other man gave her pleasure he’d not been allowed to give. Unfair to say the least. But worse if she, from where she hung and took her brother, saw him, because he’d not be able to move, stricken by lust and dread equally.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on October 02, 2016, 04:40:32 am
Ophelia giggled a little when Nathan fussed over the cold. “It’s warm, Silly. But thank you for worrying.” She told him. She was happy because he’d said that Kvell would like her like this. She was happier because Nathan still seemed to care for her in spite of her effort. “I hope you’re right. I tried to pick something that he would like.” She said. She had not realized that it suited her to look like an angel, because it gave her brother a reason to insight her fall. However, she did seem to have begun to grasp that Kvell did not have a true sweetness without a bit of edge. Poetic with her velvet and leather.

The girl was beaming like a proud school girl when Kvell seemed to approve. Nathan had said he would, so she thought he must not be pretending. It made her a bit more certain that she had been forgiven, and the blush she gave him when he told her she was tempting was only half out of her delicate manner. The rest was the thrill of success. She was laughing when he twirled her and did not take the time to worry for her modesty. If she had, she might have given Nathan the sort of look that would make his heart ache.

She was sweetly eager to hear his praise and beamed at Nathan when the butler had told him that she had picked her clothes herself. How lovely of him to work in her favor that way. Nathan was such a good man. He must like to see Kvell happy too, despite their differences. Ophelia scooted over in the seat to make room for her brother but found there was hardly a need. He had his intentions and made them quite clear, pressing her near the door like a conspiring lover. She was as rosy as her hair. “I wouldn’t try to leave. I promised that I would not.” Ophelia told him with some seriousness. She was not of the mind to be misunderstood, whimsy aside.

The poor girl was unfortunately suited to delighting Kvell regardless of her behavior, whether she realized it or not. She trembled for him then, and it was lovely in their close quarters. His lips were so very close and he looked so very handsome. She had been seduced by him before and not understood it. It was a new kind of spark to realize it now. “Is it very wrong of me that it makes me happy to hear it?” she asked him of his gluttony. “I know it isn’t supposed to be that way between siblings.” In a low voice because she felt a bit like she was confessing. It wasn’t so quiet that Nathan would be unable to hear.

Ophelia would have been better suited to have known herself a good deal better, before she went to Oleander manor. To have learned the difference between a desire to please and this sort of attraction. Perhaps it was by design that those things were becoming inseparable in her head. The more she fell into that rabbit hole, of course, the further she’d fall from Nathan. The butler must realize there wasn’t all too much time left to save her, or find himself a new place in their peculiar triad. Indulge darker pleasures. Learn to like hunting the way Kvell did.

She squirmed when he kissed her, but not to get away. It was instead a rather endearing exercise in restraint, because she was eager to find further approval and would have happily thrown her soul into his passion if he’d asked for it there in the back seat of the car. It was only a small sort of luck that the drive was not too long and they reached her enchanted playground quickly.

Ophelia did tumble from the car with a small gasp and flailed for the moment before Kvell caught her. It was the sort of thing she would have interpreted readily as Nathan’s deftness, which was unfortunately innocent. She was quickly reminded it was Kvell that had kept her from falling though, when he pulled her close and made her feel lewd for having fallen in the first place. What a terrible girl she was. But the forest was beautiful here and she was willing to be spellbound by the superficial loveliness of it as quickly as she had been taken by her brother. She did not see the ulterior motive of the hungry vines and thought the chains looked like jewelry.

She wandered among the flowers like she belonged there, stooping to run her fingers over petals which looked exceptionally soft or bright. “This place is positively magical,” she breathed, looked back at Kvell with a brilliant smile. It might very well have been that the previous days had not occurred at all and Kvell had always been a good prince.

Ophelia wriggled her toes in the grass and continued on, peeking now and again at the basket her brother carried. She was curious, but refrained from asking. It was likely a function of a demure disposition but it might have been the fear of something within that could break her happy spell. Regardless, she looked adorably nervous when Kvell decided they had found an appropriate place to stop. She could have been content wandering the flowers all day, if he’d not said something. That nervousness turned quickly to startle when he sent the golden treat sailing her way. She jumped for it with her hands up, shawl fluttering away like she was some emergent butterfly. When she had clasped the pastry in her hands, sweetness on her fingertips, she took a satisfied breath and made to show Kvell.

It was then that she realized this had the design of a different game and her mouth made a delightful round as she understood. A good humored shriek when he lunged for her and she went sailing away on spritely feet. She was confident here because the grass had been gentle and she kept the pastry held high like it was the ultimate prize.

The game of tag was believably sweet. She laughed and smiled for him, crying out in delight when he tickled her and struggling to dart off again. Ophelia realized he was more or less letting her go, but it must certainly mean he wished to see her run. So she did, until she was breathless and the vines had snagged and caught her well enough that she was strung up in his verdant web. Chest heaving and cheeks flushed, she blinked at him from where she was tethered and did not seem to mind the little pricking thorns that kept her there. “I’m stuck, will you help me down?” she asked him with a smile. How utterly unbelievably naïve she was, to think he’d had any other plans but to leave her there.

When he closed in on her and sang about his scheming vines, her bright eyes grew wide and she thought briefly to struggle. It only confirmed that he was correct and the little insults to her dress and uncovered skin would become more severe if she pulled. However, if Ophelia had intentions to become worried over her circumstance, his kisses assuaged it. This was not so very different from the labyrinth then, and somehow that memory had become gentle in the wake of the past days. Would he be delighted by the way she moaned when he closed his hand around her throat?

Sweet girl was delectable in her dichotomy. The expression she wore was so very unsuited to her brother’s games. This was an innocent heart, raised by good women of the cloth. But the sounds those sinful lips made begged him to consider her a harlot. His fingers played the chords to make her sing and she had no recourse to silence it. She was still breathless and tingling from his game of tag. Somehow there was less shame in this, when he possessed her. Her sighs were pleasure and relief. He should have loved her like this the first time and she might not have betrayed them both. She had offered this when he’d laid her on Nathan and bastardized her sacrifice. Whatever part of her still needed atonement, she thought to find it in this. But the vines drew blood and she found pain when her hips sought pleasure. It made tears sting her eyes and it made for an unfairly provocative image. The little nymph in the forest, pink from the chase with slick lips and slick cheeks and huffs of breath that strained her bodice.

Ophelia felt rather outside herself then, bewildered by her own eagerness and aching with the desire to reach for release. She bit hard on her lip and had the sense to be ashamed of herself even as she arched for the pain and his pleasure. This was the sort of god he was after all, wasn’t it? Somewhere in the midst of her sweet singing she caught a glimpse past her brother’s shoulder and met the gaze of her loyal rooster, there in the trees. It pressed her shame into full view and she gasped with the wave of guilt that his stare brought crashing over her. She cried out, stare still captured by the man beyond, and felt Kvell bring her over the edge.   

Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on October 02, 2016, 04:59:50 pm
Nathan had every intention of staying where he was, parked. He didn't fear for her life or safety. Kvell had made it know what kind of game he was going to play, today. Better not look for punishment. It was enough to have seen her so happy, through the mirror in the car, with Kvell so inappropriately smitten. Those cracks in Nathan's heart longed to be tended to, with him leaned to the hood of the car, waiting. And he'd not even heard her little confession to her brother in the backseat, and how Kvell had answered that her happiness over his unbrotherly desire was the most godly thing a sister could feel. But in the forest the butler thought he heard her screams dying everywhere, her bones breaking in every twig. So he had to go. Hero's valor in scout's act.

Of course, her brother, when she asked, strung up, already had every intention of upsetting her nerves and overwhelming them and then take her down, but then, upon her request, he thought to have his way and then leave her for the night, hung up and blood scented, to see how he'd find her on the next morning, and what beasts she might be speaking of. A promise would not allow it, and he didn't mourn that imagery long, when her moans drew him in. That hand made tighter acquaintance with her windpipe when she divulged she'd developed a taste. How much fun he would have with this later.

It was strangely entrancing to listen to her sounds, and see her writhe. She was not discovering as much as she was experiencing, anymore. He wanted to see where her new line was, how much further he could push her until finding the limit of this hunger. A new precipice where her pleasure would find agony, again. But that was her brother of every other day. Today his scheme of antics had been written by another lover. So he fed love into her hips, harder and harder, which shook her and invited the thorns deeper into her shallow vessels. What a fall of red she became.

He, who was trying on a place that had Ansa's texture and slick, but a new way of hugging him, was also loosing himself into their moment. Trained lover that he was, he knew what to play at, and simply sought it in the hanging fruit he'd put into the vines himself. He'd denied both Ophelia and Nathan what followed next, when she fell to pleasure, and he was deep. It was the zenith of what should not happen between those with identical blood, but he still let it, and marked her intimately, with boiling signature. So nothing would be lacking in this one tryst.

He kissed her wet cheek and let himself be himself, to nurture and pamper the lie, as he unsheathed cruelly from her. The dress would not fall back, complicated into the bodice as it had become, and he took two steps back to admire his work. Opehelia, newly loved, with her arms together, above herself, hanging in the conspiring vines. She'd proven to take so very well to physicality. Did he look proud, then, and would she feel accomplished, warmed by those dark eyes?

"See?" he said and touched her cheek to record her expression onto his fingertips. "I love you so much." And the caress ran from her jaw to her neck and down between her softnessess until he could hook his thumb into one of the bridges that laced the corset into its tightness. "You needn't worry." Though I prefer you do. Love doesn't save anyone. Acts of love does. He pulled downward, which - they knew now - would serve to cut her arm worse, not release her. Thirsty vines.

After enjoying her for some time, until some blood was cold and other had become dark and hard, he came to her again, lifting her out of the hold of the forest he'd planned, and corrected the dress, finally. Kiss on her nose and laughter for her ear. He'd chased her and then he'd tupped her, she would be as tired as Ansa would have been, only Ophelia did not have the strength of beautiful madness to invigorate her again. He placed the surviving sister on a blanket by the spring and lifted the lid of the basket.

Glimmering treats for her. Even the small sandwiches were dusted in gray. It would have been a pretty theme, until he placed his own morsels beside hers. His were white breads, dark fillings. Stark contrast. And, of course, the waxed paper unfolding with noise and holding the treasure of cubes and long cuts for his carnivorous tastes. He winked at her when he placed meat on his tongue. How natural for the prince, to eat what looked like pray rather than meat, out here among the trees.

With blood-painted fingers he also made sure she had her fill of mercury food. Some of it was only just covered in the metallic powder, holding the flavors of what was underneath, mostly, while other things were deliberately a bit dry because of the presence of the too-subtle-to-be spice. He might love it, too, since her arms might be too bullied to be of use anyway. Not that there was any question that Ophelia should always eat from the master's hands if he was present.

Nathan, who had dealt with his lust and left it marking his hiding place, thought it looked like a natural occurrence, crimson armed girl with the well-tailored darkness. Yes. It seemed like a very rare but not impossible encounter of a mythical animal, or a woodland female, interacting with the human owner of the trees. Like there must be piece between industry and nature, lest nature be farther abused. The rooster that was not a rooster as much as she was a nymph, still breathed faster from the care he'd given himself upon seeing Ophelia taken, moved carefully to keep her in his view. She'd seen him, too, when she was critical.

Kvell moved behind her on the blanket, and started with the corset. He had a few tricks, and he pulled violently sometimes, but it came loose quickly. He would help her off with the dress if she had found lethargy in fatigue, if she'd found fatigue, at all. Tomorrow, perhaps, she would know what it truly meant to wear this outfit. But then, he would wear something too, and no longer be bound by a promise his fowl brother had forced between them. He kissed her shoulder and started to undo the hair at the top of her head. It had some of the forest in it, and it was endlessly fitting. He needed to see her natural, out here.

"Into the water you go." he said and took off his boots, finally. He'd stayed almost entirely dressed, even with her against the vines. Now, no socks, and rolled trousers, almost up to his knees. He did not know if she could swim, but of course wouldn't let her drown if she did not. Perhaps he'd take a while though, if that was the case. Would she even go, if she didn't see the bottom in the milky water? A few waves of his hand, and surely she would, anyway. He wanted to see her blood turn the milky rosy. It would be good for the cuts, but mostly it was for the image of his nymph stirring the waters with herself. This part of the forest was starved for human ruby life.

"If a soul such as mine would have come to your Home." he started, feet submerged from where he sat on a rock perfectly placed and shaped, by the water. "And it was sorry, for some reason or the other." he continued, lifting a foot to have the water drain between the toes. "What treatment would you have offered for my sins?" Prayer, probably. They would not have said his forgiveness laid in indulging all the dark things he wanted. They would not have given him the pretties they had for him to cut and bleed and play with. Houses tended to protect their purest, even if other things suffered because of it.

There was no regret in the man, increasingly a boy, where he sat. But Kvell was always looking for new points of view. He'd only found his current one by testing himself and Ansa, after all.

Nathan, who was growing insane in his silence, could think of a few things he would like to teach the Sir that no one else had the gull to. He wondered if it hadn't just been better to throw the son of Oleander right into the fire from the start, that his coming atrocities could start to be cleansed. Nathan kept eyes on the beautiful Ophelia, and tried not to have so much darkness in his heart for the want. He had wanted to court her, write her letters, find flowers for her borrowed room. Now he fought not to think which of Kvell's things he'd rather do to her, too.

Perhaps that was why Homes did not give out their Ophelias to men.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on October 13, 2016, 07:47:45 pm
She trembled and winced when the thorns cut her deeper, but her nerves held their breath for the pleasure trailing behind. There had rarely been pain in this manor without equal measures of ecstasy. A gasp when she reached his fullness and hers. Ophelia had done well then, she thought, if he had been moved to engage her this way. She had been cast to his butler with the scraps of her virginity, but she was not Nathan’s garden. This was how she’d been intended to blossom, under her brother’s caress. Strung in the vines, it did not strike her as anything but truth. Even still, she cast glances beyond Kvell’s shoulder to the rooster among the trees.

It was not that she was dissatisfied her lover, it was quite the opposite. In that moment that her body was Kvell’s and her eyes were Nathan’s, she felt a sort of intimacy with both men she’d not grasped before. That sort of enlightenment might have sparked the first recognition of a budding love for her brother, who had shown her this strange scarlet world. She was warmed by that tiny flame and smiled sweetly for him when he stepped back to look her over. “Am I good enough?” she asked him. Timidity was gently swayed into a desire to please. She was blushing again, a new embarrassment born out of eagerness rather than shame.

When he told her that he loved her she heard forgiveness more than affection, because it was what her guilty heart desired most. However, his forgiveness had not once been cheap in this kingdom and she became fretful the moment he said she needn’t worry. Ophelia trust him, but her trust in Kvell’s judgement did not speak for faith in her own ability to perform. She had been, by most accounts, innocent to this point. To enjoy his butler’s company was not a crime under conventional rules. Ophelia had not yet determined all of Kvell’s rules; only that she would do best to flourish in his selfishness as any other sun would be made to scorch her.

Ophelia was becoming noticeably anxious when he finally stepped back to her. She had not learned to appreciate his gaze, unseen as children in the Home had been.  When the Sisters watched carefully it was not generally a good thing. Besides, after his initial sweet, she was quick to recall his propensity for tartness in all things. The vines were eager to remind her of that. There was pleasure only at cost here. It crossed her mind that he might intend to leave her there, and she wondered what sort of sacrifice that would make her.

But he did take her down from the verdant snares. Though there might have been gentler ways to wrest her free, it would have hurt none the less. Ophelia had not developed Ansa’s propensity of directing her cries into harshly bitten lips, so she was honest when she yelped as he took her down from her spiny ribbons. She had been suspended for some time and chased before that, so it was not terribly surprising that she stumbled when her feet touched the ground. Kvell was kind to her though and helped her fix Ansa’s dress. If she tried, it was easy to believe they were good siblings raised together. Doting brother and clumsy sister out for a picnic by the lake. She was willing to invest in that fantasy, even, though she wasn’t sure where to place the soreness between her thighs in that dream work. Ophelia breathed deeply and settled on the blanket. It wouldn’t be Kvell if she didn’t feel this way, because she’d not known her brother without the games. Best, then, not to fantasize too much.

She took the treats he fed to her like it was an act of obedience rather than a personal desire, though the way her nose wrinkled and her dimples showed said the sandwiches and sweets were a delight as usual. Ophelia noticed that her foods were in contrast to Kvell’s and it was only against his dark morsels and stained fingers that she thought to ask. “What makes them shimmer so nicely?” she asked him with the sort of tone that expected a delightful answer. Like fairy dust. She had become less aware of him with the sting of the brambles fading from her cuts to a dull ache. Ophelia could believe he was benign. She was tired, too. Woman in her prime, but she was still fresh to his whims and was both physically and mentally exhausted by the life of Oleander manor.

When he made to undress her, she did not protest. She did, however, attempt to cover herself with her hands and the pile of fabric once it had been taken off her. It was in her charm to be bashful each time when Ansa had been beautifully brazen. Ophelia set aside her small modesties when he sent her off toward the pale water, remembering how lovely baths felt on superficial wounds. In that some relish the cold for the searing flow of heat that breaks it, she was learning to accept the injustices to her body for the aftermath.

Fitting of the brother to ask her about godly things when she was a pagan thing of the forest then. Her hair caught the low sun as it danced through the trees and set a rosy halo bright around her face, even as the tails of those strands became dark swimming serpents in the water. She was confident to enter, submerging herself t her shoulders. At the Home, she’d liked summers the best because the public pool offered free passes to the children. Ophelia fancied herself a fairly strong swimmer for all the hot days she’d spent splashing in chlorinated delight.

She floated around to face him, the mermaiden and her seductive human prince. Ophelia smiled and buoyed herself up to stretch out on her back. The water swirled and stole its own pink halo from the freshest marks on her skin. A pretty face and the soft feminine sweeps of her extended shape peeked above the cloudy pool. Would Nathan find it better to watch or turn away, having seen so much of this outing already. Ophelia wasn’t thinking of the steadfast servant then. She was thinking about her brother’s soul and her own. A pity, maybe, that it was in this sort of moment that she was most beautiful. Considering the gravity of sin and salvation and the darker paths she had been drawn to wander she was a star twinkling in the night. Couched in Nathan’s sweetness she might only ever be a flower among prettiness. Lost.

“I might have tried to help you find the goodness in yourself. I would have gone with you to pray. But redemption isn’t something we find for each other. You must seek it yourself. I think that the path there might be something quite personal.” She offered. Her own voice sounded distant to her submerged ears. Ophelia wondered why it was easy to say to him, this man that had lived in a castle of impurity, when she could not picture herself returning to the Home with her new burdens. She thought there might be something to say about how far she’d fallen. If Kvell had been raised to know a different love, perhaps there was nothing he needed forgiven. She, who had been guided by the good Sisters, had no reason to think she could be pardoned.

“If I had been raised here with you and Ansa, would I have sins to take to the alter?” she asked. Would she have been more like Ansa and her wild demons? The answer seemed like it must be an explicit no. She was too sweet, even as she learned the Oleander tastes. If anything, it was possible Ansa might have killed her. Or, if Ansa had eclipsed her instead, she might have escaped with Nathan marked on her soul rather than Kvell. But Ophelia had made Kvell god because she believed herself entrenched in the sin of finding pleasure. She had no reason to believe she would have been anything but a wicked girl had she grown up behind her family’s walls.

“Is there a different kind of redemption here?” she asked him then, righting herself in the water to stare with a remarkably focused expression. If Kvell was god and redemption was found through prayer, she should know how to pray to Kvell. Ophelia drifted over to him and caught a small spiral of lilies in her hair as she went. Nymph. She looked up at him earnestly from where she floated at the foot of his rocky throne. If she’d known what it was to seduce a man, she might have reached to encourage him into the water with her. But Ophelia did not recognize that want even if her expression did. A chance to find Ophelia’s redemption, then. A passion that burned slower and sweeter than his raging Ansa had.

The sun was setting. Surely, in the peace before the next storm, Nathan might be able to emerge to suggest they make their way home. If he had, instead, found some pleasure in watching her come undone at his Master’s hand he might witness it carried out on her own terms and a gentler hand.

 
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on October 14, 2016, 04:41:58 pm
What could he say, looking at the fruit that grows from nectar flowers, hanging by her veins and skin, when she asked him if she was good enough? A Kvell she’d learned to know, a real creature in history and action, would have shaken his head – hopefully with some favoritism in his eyes – and told her no, how could you possibly be good enough?, but he was not that Kvell now. He was a designed brother that indulged only when it fit with the image another man, hidden, said to uphold. You’re only bleeding for me, you’ve only prayed to me, given your life – how could that ever be enough? Your hips aren't trained and the inside of your belly doesn't welcome me home yet. You don't ask me to continue with worried eyes while breathing something that sounds like a plea for me to stop. She heard none of that. Instead a gasp, pain in the whistle of the powerful throat. He did shake his head, but at himself, and her doubt. “You are better than good enough.” He’d heard it in a song somewhere. Then he harvested his sister, and she gave him what Ophelia always did, little gems with her voice. How honest. That music lost in sweetness to the sight of her trying her bare feet on the ground again, and failing. What if tomorrow he cut all the tendons in her legs and didn’t tell her?

Sitting down, taking food, he found some peace. Calm was not something the last Oleander son searched for, but he didn’t mind it when it came. It was of very little consequence to him, like a polite breeze, but perhaps his sister did well seeing it in the person who held her fate. A smile, not so calm, stretched his lips, favoring the rightmost corner, when she asked about the color of her treats. It was not a clue when he put a strip of meat on his own tongue and spoke around it, at least not an intentional one. “Love. Let it fill you up, sister. Let the shimmer on the food become your own shimmer.” Small laughter and bloody lips before a lick and a breath brought him back from that candid, contained outburst. His lips were pristine again, when they were set in a smaller formation, focused on feeding and spoiling her.

A kiss on her shoulder for her modesty after she’d let him take her clothes. His cheek against hers insisted she didn’t need to cover up. The water thought otherwise, but it did it well. When she let it hold her up it seemed as though the milky bath was drawing payment out of her cuts for keeping her to the surface. This forest loved the blood of the Oleander sisters. He was sure if she lived here long enough, the trees would give her apples and the moss would keep her warm, but that she would be completely drained in the end, slowly robbed of her inside color until she became white dust dissolving in this pool. He thought it might be a satisfying murder to watch, but there were too many other uses for her instead. The forest would have to find another beauty to love and betray.

He thought of redemption, as she said, quite often. He held it lightly, and tried to lose his ties to it on occasion. It was a precious attachment to the soul, he knew, and he had eyes for it because of that. But he’d find himself without all of the things that he liked more if he should obtain it. “I should like to have it, one day.” And it wasn’t false. If he could collect it and put it in glass, he would. Instead, since redemption would have nothing to do with him, he would redeem himself to himself. A much more rewarding pass-time. “But maybe I am not ready, not deserving.” More fuel to the act he was performing. That was what a good man would say, he assumed. “Wouldn’t that have been a fun adventure, Ophelia and Kvell and the mystery of the lost redemption? You would wear a leather hat and I could carry our luggage.”

What could he do but shake his head at the image of her living in his childhood? He wondered where her place would be in their dynamic. Perhaps her good would infect himself and Ansa, made it harder for them both to blossom, while they in turn purified her of innocence, and elevated the person she could be. To Kvell, any more of Ansa in anyone was to refine them. The silver food. Maybe Ophelia would have become an emissary for both, a voice box, or a means of relief. He could not imagine loving anyone else if Ansa was alive. Therein lay the answer, maybe, that there would be no sin, because there would be no love either. A fantastical lie, instead. “We would have protected you from all sin, baby sister. Ansa and I would have spoiled you and you would have laughed every day.” It was such a waste on such an earnests question. She could blame Nathan, if he’d confess.

She awoke from the water’s spell, and came with clarity from it, at him. Kvell had an expression a more experienced woman would know, anticipating some kind of offering that did not come, which only nurtured the hunger. He should very much like to sample something she initiated herself. Willing mermaid, with her tangled, trailing crown of lilies. Ansa had never swam like this for him. Rather, she would have looked like another category of water tale. While he waited, Ophelia asked a question. He was inspired by her beauty sticking up from the foggy water. Too often she was prey seeking him out. “If there was, would you want it? I feel that you are very redeemable, as I feel I am not.” he took his shirt off. Pearly skin with little silver secrets. He’d known violence too, and with his darkness, wasn’t it completely expected?

Nathan thought she looked like the prettiest debris, with her skin barely parting from the water, in fact, from this distance, the girl and the liquid were inseparable until she was outline by her blood pinking the spring. Her hair was a spectacle, following her and picking up flowery ornament, a tax from the water, for being allowed to host her. What a picture they were, ever superior Kvell, looking down at perfect Ophelia. Nathan whispered for Kvell to stop, released him from the promise he’d forced, but no one heard. Soon the brother was naked, and then he stepped into the pale depths that already surrounded the girl.

“How about I make some redemption for you, sister?” perfect face and hair, leaning against the rock. The head hadn’t touched the water yet. He was also something of the forest, set against the black of the rock. An old creature with youth’s beauty. Perhaps there was horror in the milk beneath his carven torso. Everything was Kvell’s frame. He waited for her to come along, if she wanted. This kind of thing could awaken her to the tension between two people. How a heart could live on those strings. If she wanted to explore him, she may. “Would you know what it feels like?” What if it felt like rigid approval? Or a torrent of spring between them when they moved. Or the sensation of drowning while drinking water, moaning. If she inclined her body either way, or looked into a special room in his eyes, he would either be her hunter, and violently test her skin against the nature that made the edge of this bath, or he could be a board for play, and they could be on the one tongue of sand, a minuscule beach for this milk oasis.

Nathan would see it happen too, knowing full well he wanted to see her with her brother again. But he had no reason to be gentle with himself. He’d be done too fast. And as the siblings swam in the forest in a way they should not, Nathan who had expelled the acute lust from his system once more, would only have the bitterness left. He’d come up from behind his master, swiftly or from a hidden place, to strike him with a rock, while Kvell was still inside Ophelia.

The horror and guilt over the satisfaction of seeing hot blood drip from Kvell's wicked head had the butler on his knees. He couldn't hold on to the rock he'd used, but he could look at Ophelia, trying immediately to dispel whatever accusation he'd find there, or put there in his own mind. "I... he-- it's wasn't real!" he said, pleading with blue eyes. "He's alright, I've seen worse on him." The scars on his chest. More secrets. And Nathan would desperately pull at Kvell's body, that would breathe upon the abuse. He was still pretty, with a beard of blood. A villain waiting for the hero's last stroke. "I told him to be nice to you, and he turned it to deceit!" Nathan continued, frantic as he dragged his master toward the clothes he'd discarded to play with her. "We need to get him back to the car." He'd dressed Kvell before, when he was listless, but today it seemed so much worse. "Please, Ophelia, you have to help." he begged, trying to get the tailored trousers on the wet legs. In truth, he thought somewhere in his livid mind that he wanted her to help him, that he could start being familiar with her again, and have a sign that she didn't think he was a monster. "I did something terrible."

The spring finally had its first drops of brother blood.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on October 22, 2016, 04:25:30 am
There were novels dedicated to the awakening of a woman. Awakening like lighting a fire in the dark. Kvell and Nathan might have given her the tinder but it was Ophelia that struck her own spark. A god asking for forgiveness and his apostle at his feet. She would not have been able to distinguish for whom this was redemption and from where it might come. He came down to her, as natural as she, to stir the milky waters. Her hands were trembling, but her gaze was steady dark like miles of autumn evening sky.

Ophelia’s temptation blossomed because she was restraint in milky skin and apple lips. How awful when she was gentle, horribly gentle, as she kissed him. Kvell, an overwhelming wave, was her perfect antithesis. This was careful, unpracticed, self-conscious. A fan of lace in a dark void, she moved like she needed permission and was tripping over her own audacity. It was getting late. The swollen sun was a ripe fruit bowing low and it cast a bloody brilliance over her pool-darkened tresses. This brother of hers had explored her and marked her with his god hands but she had not reached back like this before. This was purpose in feather light caresses. She ran the back of her hand along his jaw, breath caught on her tongue. Romantic girl had believed his story, that unbelievable fantasy for a sweeter Ansa and more innocent Kvell.

“Is it ok if I…?” she trailed off, fingers running over his chest as she caught his chin between her lips. She drifted closer to him, soft skin and a wreath of lilies, her body’s heat playing some music with the cool water that rushed against him. Ophelia peered at him through long lashes. “I’m sorry I don’t know what to do to please you.” She said. She had been at the mercy of his skillful hands and he had found his own pleasures in his games. Ophelia’s efforts were sincere, but unpracticed. But she was earnest where she was lacking in experience, drawing on the way he had moved against her and climbed his own zenith within her.

Ansa had not cared to please, hungrily extracting her own desires from every provocation. Kvell had been her respite, whether or not she had ever been his. Tumultuous and uninhibited lover, that lost sister was a ghost against him now, with too-long hair and the illusions cast by the water on his skin. Ophelia was brilliant when she was suffering, but this glow was warm still. She pulled him by the wrist to entreat him out into the water with her, still stirring thin clouds of pink to lap at his shoulders. She was smiling. If he’d not known her for her naivety it would have been a simple pretend that she was a siren and he a hapless sailor.

She swam with him, drifting back to offer sweet kisses for his cheeks and brow every so often, until her toes found sand again and she was pulling him onto the small and lonely beach in their opalescent ocean. On the damp shore she hung herself over him and wrapped her arms about his neck. If her brother would allow them to tumble she would seem pleased, as if she had anticipated this outcome regardless of his participation. Cute, because it was unreasonable. Ophelia played out her first seduction like a fairy tale.

She would press herself astride him, cautious at first, and a hesitation as if she thought he might refuse her. If there was none to stop her, she would find the rhythm that most affected his breath and give herself to it with soft gasps and wet lips. Ophelia had intentions of service in this, it was apparent, in the way her own pleasure cast surprise in her eyes and quickened the eager of her hips. When her own offerings to the Master had sent her spiraling toward her own peaking moans, she found herself beneath him, limbs splayed in a pretty disarray.

When Nathan came up behind him and the rock struck his skull, Ophelia did not understand it. She saw the way his expression changed and the blankness there as he was cast forward onto her, his own red spilling in the violent way of head wounds. She had seen him wear borrowed vermillion, but never his own. When she did register that he had been attacked, she shrieked, and then clapped her hands across her mouth when she saw Nathan above them. The night made the rooster more sinister than she had ever seen him, the desperation in his stare unable to shake the way Kvell’s blood had made hers run cold.

“What did you do? Nathan, why?” she was gasping as the butler pulled their prince off of her and out of her. Somehow it was that sudden movement that violated her most. “Seen worse… why… how could you?” it was inevitable that she was crying, bloodied and lovely and unabashed in her nakedness. “There was no deceit!” she defended, because she wished it so more than any other truth. “I—I wanted this! He forgave me.” Ophelia was flushed in the face, frightened and angry. “Stop it! Don’t hurt him like that!” she was scrambling after the two men, horrified that Nathan would drag him so.

She couldn’t understand why he insisted upon dressing Kvell, who she could not tell was conscious or not. Whether it was a product of her own nakedness and the way it had been so often exposed at the manor, or because it simply seemed insensible under the circumstances, she was swatting Nathan’s hands away from him and rushing to cradle Kvell’s wounded head in her lap. “Don’t you have anything to help him?” she demanded. She stared at her loyal rooster as if he were a frustratingly useless stranger. “Isn’t there anything in the car?” Ophelia had grabbed for Kvell’s discarded shirt and was attempting to press the fine cloth to his sopping wound.

They would get him back to the car with a significant amount of combined effort and Ophelia would hold Kvell’s head in her bare lap the full way back to the manor. She stroked his face and watched his lips intently for signs of breath. It was inconceivable to her that he had endured much worse and that Ansa had, on occasion, been certain she could not love him more than when he was in some state that seemed like dying. To Ophelia, this was cataclysmic. That Nathan had had a hand in it, too, was a violent sort of heartbreak. She would not look away from her brother until they arrived at the manor, and even then she would not look at Nathan.

Ophelia remained in the infirmary as dark night settled over the estate. A masked someone—she did not notice who—brought her a thick robe to address her forgotten modesty. Sitting at Kvell’s side, she held fast to his hand. “How could you do such a thing to our Master?” she asked Nathan, and did not understand the fullness of her own question or the things she called her brother.   

Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on October 22, 2016, 08:40:32 pm
It was a test to Kvell, when he became a figure in the milk with her, to let her swirl in the water by her own decisions. When his nerves awoke underneath her careful play, they immediately laid out all the horrible things he should do. Such an illustrious tint to those images. Instead he had to endure the pleasure of the light caresses, and lean into them without reaching back with clawed hands. His own torture, but it was beautiful to see what kind of creature she was when she was allowed. She was honest the way a reflex is honest, as surprised by her own wading and swimming as he was.

He lifted his chin for her attention and shook his head at her apology. "It's quite pleasant already." he assured her, acting outside the mask Nathan had bartered he wear by being transparent. Better she be encouraged in her innate honesty. He always wanted her without a veil, even if he shackled her sometimes. He laughed softly coming along, arm first, when her hand suggested it around his wrist. Curious brother, heart strangely enticed by her games in the water.

With his broad motions, once their feet could not touch the bottom with their heads still breathing, he petted her as they traversed the smallest sea. The strokes would slow when his fingers rode her spine and drew on her thigh as she came back to offer pecks that he could pay for with satisfied breaths. He followed until they could walk again. The air that had taken in the evening in the absence of their bodies wasn't cold enough to offer more than novelty until they were were on the sand together. And then her brave heat, after her legs framed his. She'd been willing when he played with her during prayer, and hung up on the thorns, but this welcoming was hers completely. The sensation of it had the brother's breath ragged underneath her.

Even this should be better than what she'd been forced to perform atop Nathan. She was prettier now, at least. The bitter memory that he'd directed was soon melted when she found her own pace. What a new thing she was. He had a thought not to participate, and let her run herself exhausted, but she was too enticing, venicine licking at wolven fangs for leisure. It was too much to take, when she brought herself to rapture. He had to show her as well, and chase his own release, so he turned them without violence, part of the dance, so he could make her impression against the sand, too.

He kissed her sweetly, and then deeper, like he had in their labyrinth, when he was moving closer to something fast growing. He thought to be a bit honest and a bit cruel at the same time, and started whispering how much he loved her. How convincing it should be, that he was this kind of man in his heart, after all, when he said it through pleasure's craze. It was an added cruelty that Nathan did not know he'd brought upon the master, when Kvell was not allowed to fulfill. Suddenly, and for a short moment, her beautiful face - always accompanied and encircled by her blushing hair and sand and lilies, all of that pretty Kvell was spoiled with - became sharp as though she was a glass image lit mercilessly from beneath. He didn't know why. The pleasure went away when that image bled into itself, diluted by hurried black. He fell asleep against her, lulled by that rock.

Nathan almost became sick the moment he saw Ophelia's horror. Her little hands on the mouth he'd made large with fear. As he tried to redeem himself by saving Kvell, she said things he couldn't accept. It was killing him very effectively, the way she suffered from Kve'lls slumber and wound. Truly, this had been a mistake. Had he just sewn the two closer in doing this? "He didn't forgive you!" Nathan cried as she defended Kvell's body. She was successful in keeping the butler away since he didn't want to hurt her. His fingers curled as he tried to explain. "He just forgives when he forgets, and he'll only forget you when you bore him, Ophelia." How could any man forgive her, if she was so lovely and loyal with guilt stacked on her dainty back. His stomach upproared when she sat there, holding Kvell's head as though it was her that kept the bones together. Would she be half as kind to him if he fell down?

"We have to return. There is nothing in the car." And why should he mend Kvell here? So they could continue this scene? Surely it must have been written somewhere, such a pretty little drawing, man and the lovely forest nymph. But he thought that he should have done his best to prevent the ride home, when he saw her in the mirror, completely attached to Kvell, and his still features. Was she beautiful because she was so securely fettered to the master? No. He'd thought she was the brightest day, when he'd seen her when she first arrived.

"You have to believe me, Ophelia. He wasn't being sincere..." he tried once during the travel, but he couldn't get her attention.

Sparrow was livid when she stood there by the gurney, waiting for them. She also slapped Nathan's hands once Kvell was on the mobile bed. He answered when she asked what happened. On their way to the infirmary, it was clear that Sparrow was not as distress about the injury as Ophelia, but rather Ophelia's company. Yes. Sparrow knew. She had a different relationship to Kvell's blood. "See what your love does to him, sister?" she hisses so that the leather mask whistled. But Nathan couldn't have that, not when Ophelia was so torn apart by something he'd done, so he begged the little bird to do her mending and leave them be. Moa, behind her mask, made sure he felt truly low for being such a dog to the weakest sister before she left, instruments in the basin and Kve'lls head well wrapped in white bonds.

Nathan would have preferred the volcano that was Sparrow stay, if it could have filtered Ophelia's eyes. Somehow, the injury seemed graver, simply because of how much darkness it brought to her. "I..." he stood by the foot of the bed, shaking his head at her as though it could make her sweet to him again. How could he answer this? Would he tell her that he couldn't see her take such pleasure with Kvell, that she'd not reached with himself, and he couldn't look away either?

"He spoke of playing a particularly deadly game with you." perhaps not lethal, but he wanted her to know he'd protected her. "I couldn't take it, not when you were already hurt from what I did." his hands were granite, shivering by his sides. "Damn it, Ophelia, I'm sorry." Head dropped and shoulders slumped. "I bartered with him, called him brother. For you." She was so lovely, dressed in the blanket and worrying for Kvell. "I told him he had to be kind to you today, I thought that would make you happy." A gesture out, as though the fanning fingers would point out the entire day to her. "Wasn't he strange today?" Already his heart was hurting, for being blunt, but he couldn't stop, not if there was a chance of redemption for him in her eyes. "What brother do you have that acts like that? Laughing and speaking gently? It was only convincing because he sees us normal, soft-hearted, and he imitates! It's like when he makes me wear a rooster's mask, Ophelia. It's like you look like Ansa but you're not!" Tears in his eyes.

Kvell listened to this without protesting. He would not remember a syllable and could not squeeze her hand back. Without dark plots and playful ill-will, his features were softer set. The details did not cling to shadow since the sun and the light wasn't trying to warn her. He was just a sleeping, handsome thing, guilty in the past and surely tomorrow, too, but innocent presently. Might be hard for her to believe Nathan's story, looking down, but it also made sense that the brother he'd let her know could not have been the gentleman at the clearing, today.

Nathan sat beside her, hoping for her absolution, perhaps he was underneath her the same way she'd placed herself underneath Kvell, and prayed to him. He plucked a single, clinging flower from her hair and offered her clothes. He offered her escape too, with a car filled with all things from the mansion she would want, but didn't expect she'd take any of it. Nathan didn't want to soak in the shame, and would eventually leave her with Kvell, unable to see her so worried for a man that wasn't himself.

The night would grow outside until it was immortal for a few hours. It was at this time, when there was mostly darkness in the infirmary, that Sparrow decided to visit Ophelia and the unmoving master. Quiet as her totem, she'd sneak in, wine fumes billowing from her beak. Her soft soles would not give her away before her arms did. From behind she'd throw herself on the pretty sister, wrapping limbs tight around her throat and tear her away from the chair and Kvell, that they could be on the floor together.

"You're not her!" she called, furious and mad. She tried to tear Ophelia's head from her shoulders, and when she couldn't, she would try to climb her and hit her in her perfect face. "I couldn't do anything if he loved Ansa, I could respect her because she was my goddess, too!" What an insane bird. "But then Ansa gave me the gift of her death and Kvell consoled himself with me for a few nights." Her throat fluttered with the words. Fond memories.

If Ophelia struggled - her own arms were not restrained - and took the mask from Moa's face in that effort, a cute right side would see the limited light. Soft cheek and a pointed chin. Blue eye. Sweet, almost childlike if not for the snarling expression. "I grew up here the same as Nathan, did you know? I was here more, even, because I didn't have parents that took me outside." still shadows over the left side. "I played a doll once, with them, and their father scolded me like their own daughter. I was happy." frothy lips. "I was going to be all that Ansa was, if you'd just come a few days later!" Sparrow turned her head and shoved it down in to view. Teeth had raked her, and stolen the apple of her cheek. There was no lower lid for that eye, only lewd, slick flesh. Even her lip was pulled to the side and up, exposing teeth forever.

"I would have gone to hell to wait for him with Ansa, and that would have been the honor of my life." she said with unreasonable pride. She became more violent, but careless. "But then you came and took his attention away again!"
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on October 23, 2016, 01:15:24 am
Ophelia began to cry, shaking her head violently when Nathan insisted on tearing through her illusion. She wanted none of it, because Kvell had said he’d loved her and she hadn’t heard anything of his spite from the days before. She stamped a bare foot. “You’re lying!” she said. “Stop talking. Stop saying things like that!” she had let go of Kvell’s hand to clasp her own ears. Childish by any other estimation, but this was a girl with acute and well-held delusions. Kvell had overwhelmed her in a week. He had swallowed her whole. There was no girl in that room who wished to hear Nathan’s reason.

“You’re lying. You wouldn’t do such a thing. You wouldn’t tell him to lie to me.” She told him, staring at him with wide and glistening eyes. Faith in some better goodness the Rooster had failed at. How bitter it should taste. “He’s hurt me before. You didn’t stop him then… you wouldn’t tell him to lie to me now,” she sounded so sure. Defending a butler that suffered the same sort of sickness she’d contracted. A man that would believe wholeheartedly that Kvell was god.

She was shaking. “Why did you do it if it was by your own design? I was happy. I was so happy. Why are you lying to me? Why did you hurt him?” Ophelia stood up, shoving the chair back with a start. Fists clenched, like she intended to beat upon the rooster’s chest. But she was not a violent girl, even when she was so deeply moved. She collapsed back onto the seat and sobbed into her hands. “I was trying… I was trying to be good. I was trying to do something he would like.” She said in strangled gasps.

Ophelia would hear nothing else from him. She was bewildered and frightened, because Nathan had been a constant goodness in the manor that had betrayed her with a stone. She didn’t know what to do with that information, nor how to justify what he’d done. She couldn’t understand it because his explanations felt as false as her own happiness with the day. Somehow this was her fault. Nathan had never hurt Kvell in games of the Master’s design. It was that she had tried on some courage and acted so boldly. If she had not been so desperate to hold her brother’s attention, perhaps he would have noticed the strike before it had happened. She made no move to acknowledge any of Nathan’s efforts, face hidden against her palms. When he finally left and she was alone, she had already forgotten that she had been upset with him; in the manner that was so very true to herself, Ophelia had quietly shouldered the blame. A distinctly self-sacrificing sort of absolution, whether it was what Nathan had hoped for or not. 

It dawned on her, like a creeping decay. Nathan was close to Kvell, which meant she should have been following Nathan’s rules too. Nathan had asked her if she had wanted to stay in the manor and she had refused. She had offended him, then, and he had punished her with Kvell. Just like Kvell had punished her with Nathan. They were different, and not so. Ophelia’s sobs quieted. “I’m so sorry,” she said to Kvell in the silence, and reached to stroke his bandaged brow. “This was my fault.” She told the sleeping brother. “I wanted to make you happy, but I made another mistake. I have to keep Mr. Brandston happy too, so he won’t hurt you. Just like I need to keep you happy so that you won’t hurt him.” She said with a curious calm. There was some peace in understanding what had transpired. She was no longer frightened because she was confused.

Ophelia sat with her hands folded in her lap, watching her brother prince sleep. He could not be a demon with a face like that. Everything had happened for a reason. Girls who sin are punished. And Kvell was god and Nathan his right hand. If Nathan was unhappy, surely Kvell could not be either. What a thoughtful Master that made Kvell. And that Nathan was so concerned for Kvell’s happiness too: what a good servant. She had made such a mess. Ophelia recalled the photo in Nathan’s quarters. Brothers, Nathan had said.

And then Moa toppled her to the floor. Ophelia cried out and grabbed at the arms around her throat, writhing when Moa took the upper hand. She was not able to avoid the blow to her cheek, which would blossom violet petals by morning. But she had not stopped struggling. Ophelia understood now that Nathan was an authority, though a lesser authority to Kvell. She had no reason to believe that she was beneath this livid sparrow. Ophelia clawed at Moa’s face, hoping to frighten her off, but only succeeded in ripping away the bird’s mask. Blue eye like Nathan, but wearing so much spite. Even when Brandston had struck down his master he’d not worn such malice.

Ophelia was seeing spots from the small woman’s arms tight on her throat and her ears were ringing with the sudden flow of oxygen now. She was tender there, from Kvell’s own doing. She struggled to push the maid off her and struggled to understand what she was saying. Kvell was this one’s god too then. She didn’t have it in her to be jealous. Her brother was the king of this castle. He could have what he pleased. “I’ve never wanted to be her,” Ophelia wheezed. “You’re not Ansa either.”

She managed to push Moa off of her when the woman began to act more erratically, though not without incurring more scratches and a heavy blow or two. “Stop it, please!” she said, dragging herself out of the sparrow’s way. Moa caught her around the waist again. Ophelia didn’t want this woman to mark her body. Hers had already been claimed by Kvell Oleander. It wasn’t Moa’s to damage. She realized that she might get away with a concerted effort, but not without further harm. For that matter, she didn’t want to hurt Moa either.

Nathan had punished her but he’d not turned away from her. He’d taken her here and gotten Kvell help. He had never failed her in this place, even when she’d upset him before. Nathan punished her and then forgave quickly. Surely if she called now, he would come. But Kvell had shunned her for relying on the butler. She was caught. “Let go of me!” she demanded, grabbing at the blanket she’d lost in their tumble. It slipped off the chair and gave her no aid. “Kvell!” she cried out. “Nathan! Somebody please help me!” she said. And she could not have said which man she thought might come to her aid nor whom she would have most hoped for.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on October 23, 2016, 02:37:10 pm
Nathan, who had gone to protect himself from hurting her farther, sat in his room, still in the clothes of today. He was leaned into the spot where she'd been over him, saying things he couldn't hear, burning him, though he knew she would, until he'd lashed out. It was his fault in his mind, as much as Ophelia thought the blame was all on her. It seemed long ago that she'd been here. Would she come if he asked now? Hard to fathom that her first visit had ended with her in the infirmary, by his violence. Was it really that different from how things were tonight? Someone was sleeping against their will in a room where medicines and ointments waited behind glass against the walls. And Ophelia was hurt. Perhaps last time was better only because she'd not been awake to still suffer from his actions.

She was still calling him a liar. He heard it. He relived her covering her ears when she couldn't believe Kvell was not the dark saint he'd been today. She still believed in Nathan, too. Neither of them fit into the good image she'd made for them, and she was left in the wake of what should be disappointment. But she didn't have the heart for such inward judgement. There had been something else in the silence before he'd finally left. He wished fervently now that he hadn't taken today away from her, that he could have bared to look away from their bodies on the sand.

But it had cut him profoundly to see such symmetric entanglement. Kvell had not looked at her to catch her next sorrow, and she had not been in whatever misery Kvell liked to sacrifice her to. It had simply been a fueled and intimate moment. Nathan almost turned his thumb out of place, holding on to it, remembering. They had been lovers in the forest. The one thing Kvell's darkness made impossible, the the one thing Nathan had promised himself Ophelia's sensibilities could not give away. So out of the princely beast and the orphan girl who was blind to all evils, Nathan was the real fool. He groaned and rubbed knuckles into his brow. Again Ophelia was asking him to be silent, so she could continue believing he'd never ask Kvell to lie to her. Yes, Ophelia, I am that hypocrite.

He wanted to tell her, even when he was not with her, now, that love would make a hypocrite out of the best of hearts, but it wasn't possibly true. Not when Kvell was a solidly dark thing, even when the sun was out, not when Ophelia was always a scratch or a soaking cut. No. Only Nathan was a hypocrite. He held his mouth uselessly, because he had nothing to say to anyone. He rubbed his eyes without result also, because there were no tears, frustration or otherwise.

Sparrow became absolutely outside herself when Ophelia thrust the truth, that she would never be Ansa, either, into her mind. Her shriek was powerful, truly a human bird then, when she bore down harder on the beautiful, nude girl. The face that had been eaten by Kvell himself took on color, her maimed left side twisting just like the pretty part of her features. It was not hard to upset Sparrow if you knew her weakness. Ophelia managed to get her off, somehow, but Moa had seen Ansa's madness, knew it by heart, and even her faded imitation of it was enough to infuse her soul with more strength.

She wanted madly to hurt Ophelia. It was worse that she was naked. That contract shadowing her ribs, those small cuts boasting Kvell's attention. "He doesn't love me, you see, not for long like you and your sister. But if he's passionate, with anger or sorrow, he can act as though he does." Miserable laughter, hands trying to find Ophelia with her nails. "If I cut you up he will be devastated. Yes. He will punish me. Maybe then." the scars opening her face glimmered through the shadows to reveal dedicated intent.

Suddenly the bird ontop of Ophelia ascended, unclutching her talons from the naked sister. Moa gasped and hung by her arm in the air, her fight flown. Behind her, holding her up, was a quiet creature, a large thing forced to be elegant, and - today - a dark thing crammed into the mold of some garden dandy. Kvell's head still hung, hair falling over most of the white bands that Sparrow herself had wrapped and fastened. His mouth was soft, jaw lax, eyes too deep in the shadow of their sockets for the women to know whether he was awake. Moa whimpered, and from this lofty perch, Ophelia would be able to see clearly Sparrows eaten face, doubtlessly Kvell's work. The eye that wasn't blue was milky, and the hard scar tissue was even paler than her complexion. Half-mask of silk worms, escaping a bite-mark crater. It accented her adoration and insanity well.

"Master! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you." she said, feet dangling as she pleaded with the quiet Golem, come to animation to aid his sister when she called. "But she hurts you with your love! She even ruins Nathan!" Moa said, and turned to look at Ophelia again, still proud, even though she was suspended by the hand that had struck the bare girl while she waited for her brother to wake up. Moa even pointed the other hand. "She's an obstacle, master, she doesn't love..." Kvell lashed her with his other hand, Moa's hair fanning up like half a sunrise before it settled. She fell silent and limb. Kvell lowered her to the floor like coiling rope. His eyes were still in shadow when he fell back into bed, head to the side, leg over the edge. He might never have been awake at all.

Nathan had been frozen by the door, drawn by Ophelia's call but terrified as he came upon the resurrected prince shaking the rebellious bird. Now he hurried in to cover Ophelia with the blanket she'd torn down. He held her to him, into him, standing her up, wrapped in that cloth as though to protect her from the demon, their master, now sleeping again. He stared down at Sparrow, wing-clipped and calm, finally. The bite marks on her face were grotesque so close, but he knew them well. Before Ophelia, Moa had not been made to wear a mask, and she'd pranced proudly as the jagged edges of Kvell's eating mended into the disfigurement it was now.

"I am sorry you're in this menagerie of macabre dreams, Ophelia." he said and held her tighter to him. It was the most whole he'd felt all day, but it still seemed to him as though he was borrowing her from Kvell.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on October 27, 2016, 05:50:03 pm
She watched in some sort of horrible fascination as Kvell came to her aid like some sort of peculiar avenging angel. He was too frightening, looming over them both, to be comforting. But his face was serene and lovely as if he’d not even bothered to wake and administer his justice. Her lips parted, caught in wonder as she trembled, as he settled back onto the bed as if he had never moved at all. Ophelia reached out to touch him, his legs splayed over the edge of the cot.

But Nathan was there, wrapping her up like the most benevolent spider with a mood that made her suspect she ought to be frightened of her brother Master. “I didn’t know such a thing had happened to her… or that she wanted…” Ophelia started, peering then at the limp sparrow without her mask. She looked to the butler and shivered. “I don’t think that I could want something like that.” Ophelia admitted. “She scares me more than he does.” She said. Ansa would have terrified her, surely.

Ophelia seemed to recall very abruptly that this rooster was the same one that had bashed a rock on Kvell’s head. “Please don’t hurt him,” she said suddenly, wondering if he might try to punish her for having called out to Kvell first. Kvell, had he been awake, might have punished her for calling out to Nathan at all. Her brows knitted. The Sisters had said often that one could not serve to masters. Something biblical, she was certain. It resonated with her now.

“I will try to make you happy too.” She told him and it sounded a little like pleading. “But he is first. He is your Master too. If you wish to punish, punish me. Just please don’t hurt him anymore.” Ophelia bargained. He wasn’t a better man than Kvell, if that was what he’d intended to be to her. She smiled at him though. Anxiety behind the dark eyes but her expression was hopeful. Certainly she’d said something good and reasonable. He would agree to the request. He had to. Ophelia hadn’t a clue what to do if he denied her.

Lightly she disengaged herself from him, keeping the blanket wrapped tight around herself. “I will stay with him until he wakes up.” She told Nathan, sitting back down on her chair. She pulled the blanket closer to her chin. “But I don’t want to be alone with Moa.” Ophelia glanced at him. The maid would need to remain in the infirmary, she guessed, given the impact she’d sustained. Nathan would probably set her up in the other bed. She didn’t know if the sparrow would restrain herself if left another chance. Kvell had struck her down, but Moa had given up half her face for her fantastic ambitions. Ophelia didn’t want to presume she’d fall in line now. “Will you stay too?” She stood from the chair again and made to crawl up onto the bed with Kvell, where she positioned herself carefully against his side. She was staring at Nathan.

“I’ll make it up to you. I’m sorry for asking. But will you do it? You care for him too, right? You didn’t mean to hurt him. You just meant to punish me. So, for him, will you stay?” Ophelia suggested. Awful woman, because she was sincere.

Regardless of what Nathan determined to do, Ophelia would remain curled against her brother in silence. If he had stayed, she would murmur another apology as she began to fall asleep. “I’m sorry I upset you today. I’m sure it hurt you to hurt Kvell, too.” She sighed. “Kvell, you, and Moa too; I don’t know how to keep any of you happy.” And she would dream of Ansa with a half-eaten face and all the disappointed faces of Oleander Manor until morning.

When she woke, it was with a start, a tight gripping fear that Moa was descending on her or Nathan on Kvell. When she found that neither was the case, she let out a sharp breath. She would look for Kvell, either to find him just waking beside her or absent from the infirmary. She would call to him, regardless, and when she had been reunited with him she would fuss over his injury and apologize profusely. “It’s because I did something to upset Mr. Brandston that he hurt you, I think. I’m sorry. Please don’t take it out on him. It was my fault, I’m sure. Punish me instead.” She would tell him, naked innocent veiled like a saint in her blanket. If she had not learned to desire the twisting pleasures of her family home, she had at least learned to ask for them like they were holy.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on October 27, 2016, 09:54:56 pm
So easy for Nathan to tie her up tightly in the blanket when her hand was out for Kvell, laid down softly on the bed. Keep away from that sleepwaking demon, keep close to me. She'd learned Sparrow's little pride. Kvell had not meant to hide it when he told them to wear animal faces, and Moa had protested with her tension. Back when the order was given, Nathan had been a bit relieved. He'd thought to spare the girl he'd not yet loved from that much, at least. "She's another kind of Oleander mad, poor Moa. She plays deeply whenever she's invited." Her terrible scars were her sought after reward. He wanted to tell Ophelia to have sympathy, but he didn't know what Moa would do if she saw such an emotion in the living sister's eyes. It might just make her worse.

He was pulled out of that scenario by a request. How fast her mind turned back to Kvell. His brows gathered as though a string had lashed between them. It wasn't an accusation, but how could it be anything else. As always, when confronted with her eyes, earnest despite their confusing expanses, he became without words. She held him there, between defending himself and giving her everything she wanted, until she said something wonderful without happiness in her voice. He still wanted it but he shook his head.

"I don't want to punish you, Ophelia. Nobody has the right to punish you." It was impossible to wash the flaring pursuit of Kvell's satisfaction from her. He wanted to shake her free of it, wring the blanket so hard around her that the admiration and caution would run down her naked legs and onto the infirmary floor. "But I can't hurt him anymore. I didn't mean to, today." Blue eyes on the slumbering master. He'd rather not take anything from her, when she pleaded so. When she moved away he didn't squeeze her arm through the cloth to make her stay.

"I'll stay." he assured her.

It was reasonable that she was weary of Moa now. He gave the girl her mask back before he lifted her to another bed. Would she have appreciated this, laid down to breathe in tandem with Kvell? When her arm rolled off the edge he caught it and she sighed. The salts would wake her, surely, but he didn't want that. Ophelia wouldn't, either. He sat there with the quiet bird and looked across the room at Ophelia fitting herself against Kvell. It hurt Nathan to see her there, at this distance, speaking as though there was nothing selfish about him. What could he do but nod and think that she was beautiful, like someone lost, and Kvell was her cave.

When she slept, he wondered if he could somehow twist himself into the person she said he was. It would be easy to blame her when she offered it so vigorously. Perhaps if he didn't name the emotion that stayed in his stomach, and just let it be pain at what he'd seen, then his outburst that led to Kvell's bloodshed could have been completely justified. Because of Ophelia. But it is always the heart's fault. You can't fault an object of affection for the heart's reactions. So he had to be quiet when she said it was her, but he also had to take it upon himself, somehow. He wondered how much he'd suffer, trying to make her happy, and if the passion that led him to strike their master would let him.

Nathan carried Moa out when her breathing was more intentional. She didn't live all that far, and her bones should be hollow. No one to laugh at that, not even himself. She asked with a clear voice from her own sheets what had happened, and Nathan explained how he'd seen it. Moa sat up and rubbed her hair, where Kvell's knuckles had rapped. A smile where her lips would still do what she wanted. At least she didn't stand up, put her mask back on, and hurry over to quarrel more with Ophelia.

"We can make it so that she's yours and he's mine." she said, turning away to see the morning through her window.

"No we can't." he answered and stood.

-

Kvell saw her first when he woke. An expression he'd not shown her, which extended from the waking struggle to make sense of the world. A soft surprise in the wide of his eyes, and then an excitement in the large mouth. He thrust his head closer, hand in her hair, to call her name, a name. He was about to tell her of a horrible dream, and rejoice in its absence. He became mute when her hair could not be lifted fast enough. The black eyes quivered in a blink, and his throat clucked with a protest as the truth invaded this oasis. The tips of his fingers hardened, but held her scalp a little looser. Disappointment, a moment of apathy to host all the griefs, and then a sigh through his nose.

"Ophelia." if it was not clear what he'd thought he'd seen, his hand combed upward, playing with her lovely hair, letting it pile on her head and overflow until he reached the length where Ansa's would have stopped, but hers went on. "Ophelia, my sister." In the end, even Ophelia's hair ran out. He trailed the traces of Moa's abuse on her face. "Did I?" he asked and those eyes narrowed to seek the answer in the swelling. "No." he deducted and turned away with her still against him to solve the mystery of him being in this room.

When he discovered the gauze with three fingers he smirked. "Nathan." he mumbled and laughed. This creature that she knew, the creature that he'd shown, was a real part of Kvell, but it was not yet laced with too many emotions, even if she was starting to grow on him. There had been many more layers for the person he thought she was, waking up. He was drawn when she explained in better detail what had transpired on their secret beach. He grinned wide by the end of it.

"Should I punish you?" he echoed. "Should I take my frustrations and share them?" he was about to be cruel, but thought of something else. "Did you enjoy yesterday?" His performance. "Was I what you have been craving?" A child, indeed, eager to be complimented. "I was gentle and generous and soft." he bragged and kept her to him as he spun them, so she would be underneath him. The motion upset the binding and it spilled from around his head to gather on her chest. He was perfect again with wild hair and clean eyes. "Tell me how you felt, meeting that brother." he demanded.

With his dark ingenuity, he stared pushing her hair and bind it around the bars of the bed, and bringing the mass back, divided. "Be honest, or I'll know." he warned as he tied her wrists with her own lovely tresses. So much rosy treasure. "Tell me and I'll give you the punishment you want." and asked for in such a lovely way. There was enough hair to tie around her throat too, binding her wrists to the side of her neck. With one hand he could tug outward, and the hair would tighten to choke her slowly.

He had every intention of listening to her straining through whatever she would reply, rationing her oxygen in smaller portions. And in the end, he would reward her for her honesty, if she'd give it, and kiss her firmly, to steal the last of her breath, and let her fall asleep, with blue lips. He'd never let her expire of course, but he wanted this kind of beauty on her, needed some vengeance for the man he'd had to be all of yesterday.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on November 14, 2016, 02:58:09 am
Ophelia trembled as he blossomed, rising from sleep like some conjured demon. He was beautiful and frightening and, she realized, familiar now. She swallowed hard as he pressed her into the infirmary bed, still warm from his dreaming. “I—“ she began, ready to offer herself as a dutiful sacrifice with the eager she thought he might require. He seemed struck by another whim, though, and she blinked in some confusion. He was almost innocent, looking for approval. It was surprising, but she didn’t think on it on as he conjured yesterday’s sweetness and made her blush.

She nodded at him. “It was… I felt as if I knew you better. Or… perhaps, you knew me better…” A soft breath and she stared up at him with those lovely large brown eyes. Her pulse quickened; he might feel it beneath the delicate skin on her wrists. She had the look of a wild thing in a new trap, cautious but not afraid because she had not lost the sweetness of yesterday. “I was too bold though and you were hurt.” She said.

Ophelia squirmed beneath him, wincing when she turned her head too far in one manner or another. The way he had pulled her tresses into binds had secured her head and wrists both. He asked for the details of her heart and she’d yet to reconcile them herself. She recalled the way the water had caressed them both and they’d swum carelessly through the milky ripples. His warmth against her, she wrapped around him with an awakened thirst. He’d tangled her in vines and played her every note with a finesse she’d not hope of repaying. She had tried though, earnest effort and the swelling desire to please. Had her wrists been free she would have covered her face with her hands.

“I wanted to please you. It made me happy to feel you, ah…” she stumbled over her own words, half-mumbling them as she tried in vain to avoid his gaze. “You did not frighten me and you let me—“ she seemed unable to confess her own forwardness. “I don’t know how to feel this way. I’ve never wanted… this…” she had flustered herself, and it made it almost impossible not to want to tease her. It would be difficult to blame either Nathan or Kvell for whatever predatory nature she might awaken in them. But Kvell seemed to have been born a predator and Ophelia would not have been able to see herself for what sort of temptation she was. That naivety itself might have made her a sinner.

Her own hair tickled, wrapped around her throat. She’d never thought much for how long she’d let it grow until now. The pink-shaded gold grew in thick and lovely; the Sisters had often joked it would be a shame if she did choose to enter the convent. Ansa’s had been the same, but the wild girl had never had the patience to let it coil long. Ansa would cut it away herself, if the senior Oleanders had not sent to have it trimmed regularly. In truth, the parents had worried that she might play this very game Kvell was enacting with herself. Ansa’s whims had been cruel and painful and she had taught Kvell to find them beautiful.

Ophelia’s breath was quick. Shamefully, she could feel her entire body warm in anticipation of him. Every nerve bit, anxious, because he overwhelmed her with everything he did. Pain or pleasure, it all melted together under her brother’s command. “It didn’t feel so wrong to be with you,” she mumbled. She was gasping shallowly then, tense as he pulled her hair taut and stole the depth of her breath. She was blinking rapidly. “I was happy to be your sister. I wanted to know you… the way you have learned me… I don’t know why you make me feel…” she felt fuzzy, unable to bring the necessary air into her lungs. It sent spiking adrenaline through her veins, her body caught between what it knew of him and a primitive fear of death.

She was pretty with her lips swollen purple, chest heaving as if he’d already had his fill of her. Her eyelashes fluttered and blurred her view of him when he kissed her, slick tongue and warm lips, wishing her into the shallow oblivion of oxygen-deprived sleep. She moaned, before her chin dipped gently to the side and her eyes fell shut.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on November 15, 2016, 07:06:07 pm
Kvell was affected when she confessed. Self-discovery through remembering, as though it was happening all over again, but this time she couldn't hide from it. He was prepared to hear something naïve, he had not known her to be anything else, and had her strands wring her slowly so she could sing that tune that he could savor it. Instead the exclusive strings had her play a new sonnet, one of rapid intake and failing gasps, to fuel a naked testament. How bad she was to him without knowing, to call herself his sister as though it was the most solid truth she could say. His pretty bird in a closing leash. He wanted to chase her consciousness as it was slipping, thrust into her the way her hurried lungs suggested, and steer her into pleasure when the blackness took her, to paint her soul with that association – train her to crave it – and then it seemed as though that inclination was already there, the way she warmed underneath the chill of deprivation.

”You weren’t bold enough.” he corrected, to impart that she could have been a better sibling if she’d done more. Think on this, as you depart, beautiful Ophelia.

But the malice that she always courted became secondary upon the confession she gave. She was slipping away, but not as Ophelia. This girl loved him, she was too pure not to, and that emotion, the way she felt it, washed her of any chance to love him like Ansa, anymore. Their loves were not the same, and he should have punished the orphan sister for it. He should have tied her to death with her hair for failing so profoundly underneath him. But he, and he thought it was both odd and treacherous of him, also wanted Ophelia’s love. He was confused, littering her lower lip with pecks as she disappeared into the breathless place he sent her too. Did she feel it, did she try to stay to soothe him?

Kvell stayed atop her, giving her hope of life by uncurling fingers off her rosy gold. The hair unwound around his hands, and he watched as the shimmer loosened, as though inflating with her lungs, and her lips took back color and gloss from breath. Kvell lifted her head and placed her long, pink pretty back around her. It wouldn’t be such a crime to anyone, would it, if he filled her with poisons to preserve her like this? How lovely she was when she was still. The quietest tragedy. He felt she had made way in his heart, and he knew he had to be all the worse toward her, because of it.

“Are you going to die for me, too?” he whispered and traced the lifesong on the side of her neck. He dipped his head low and washed her pulse with his tongue, one stroke. He groaned through his itching teeth, but didn’t apply them. Later.

-

The light was suffering, coming in. The windows were immaculate but the air was spotted. Dust that became specks of fire, twirling, almost not descending at all, with the color of the sun as it wore its face a little deeper for the hour. The heat, whatever amount it could provide, cut her across the breast and belly, over her contract, coyly trying for her attention without being too insistent. When she woke she would wear all her bathing clothes, the naked she’d saved Kvell in. But on the side of the bed there would be a new table, with the things she’d worn to the designed clearing,  yesterday. A hood, also, red, so red it didn’t belong in the room with the orange light, or on the wood of the dark table. In-fact, this kind of red could only have been taken from particularly denied veins. A vengeful red, the red surrounding the edges of a bright reflection over a puddle of life. He would expect her to wear it, of course. Where did the scuffs on it come from? There had been violence on it.

There was a note that fell out of nowhere when she was done, flitting like a scorned bride fleeing. A detail that had taken the seamstress countless hours to facilitate. The handwriting was that of her dear tattoo, first.

Beloved Ophelia,

It so happens that an old woman is sick. For some reason or the other, sweets will cure her completely. I have given you a basket, it is under the table, and you’re to traverse the forest with this precious cargo that you may save the old woman’s life. Won’t you find it in your heart to go? You saintly heart, you.

Yours

Kvell Oleander


The rest of the note contained rather rushed scribbles. The ink was blue, cheap. Still, there was an unshakable elegance as though the hurrying hand couldn’t forget its upbringing.

Ophelia! This is Nathan, I write this through deceit. Please, I beg you, don’t go. This is a very dangerous game, and Kvell loses himself into it. You might be irreparably maimed. You might even die. Don’t go or I might not be able to stand for the consequences. Please, Ophelia, for yourself.

And with the last read word, there was music playing. Slow strokes, ominous, as though a childhood something had been strung out, like a crib with chipping paint, or a soft porcelain face with failing enamel. Something lively lived too many lives. The door to the infirmary opened and she would see grass laid out in the corridor. When she walked out there was trees. Another lush scene signed by her brother and captor. Along the walls and in the way, here and there, woodland animals with their usual leather likenesses and tailoring. Their chests weren’t out, not at attention. Their master had told them to stand as they wished, and many of them were in the middle of the hall, obscuring the path, having low conversations.

But if she looked back when she came out, the other way of the corridor, there was a shirtless brother waiting for her, quiet. His feet were bare, also, but his pants were black and pressed. A wolf’s mask, taking over the face she knew to be wondrous, leather folded and placed to imitate fur. His mouth was free, and it was red. No word for her as he came, always towering above her stature. Kvell put her hood on, if she did not already wear it, and then stuck his fingers into the shadow to caress her cheek. A ginger, delightful petition for her favor, thumb on her lip. He knew what she liked. When that courtship warmed her enough, over her ear and down her neck, he would bring her in so he could bend down. A kiss for Red.

But he was deceitful and wrenched her to the side before the kiss could land, and pushed the cape away from her shoulder. His teeth sank deep into her flesh, through the dress, his hands lifting her by her arms to let her feet whisk the air. He was grinding bone and clasping her like this, waiting for her pain to thrash her, or whatever reaction she would give. Then he unlocked her from his jaws and pushed her back to fall on the grass. Blood on his mouth, enough to reach and fall from his chin. That kind of wolf, then. With concerned breaths  and whispers the critters sought out the walls to clear her escape through the mansion. Kvell turned and walked in a regal, pompous way back to where he had stood, quite a distance, and then he twisted, one arm out, back to look at her.

He strode toward her, quiet like a calamity at the horizon, and then his long legs took long leaps. He was running for her soon, limbs flailing expertly. A wordless violence that wanted to be loud. It was promised in his eyes that he would tear her from her herself if she did not run, also.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: VenomousEve on December 07, 2016, 07:12:28 pm
Ophelia woke to the late afternoon, amber light and lazy calm. It would have been peaceful if it had been any other place, but quiet tranquil here was the collective breath before the storm. Or so she had come to expect. Even yesterday’s happy frolic had been etched in her skin with thorns and Kvell’s brow with stone. She closed her eyes and thought she should go back to sleep. Ophelia seemed only then to realize she’d been left nude.

She sat up to the empty, arms clutched across her chest as if she owed the furniture modesty. “Sir Kvell? Mister Brandston?” she called out. “Brother? Nathan?” when there was no answer. She found there would be no reply still, and turned her eye to the table. Her clothes, the same as before, but a new hood in a more sensual shade had replaced her dark cape. This one, she thought, must have been Kvell’s choosing. It was a distinctive color, like the one his meats left on his teeth; the hue he summoned to her milky skin. Ophelia touched the fabrics and shivered. It was cool in the empty infirmary.

Ophelia slipped into her clothes, accustomed by now to the eerily perfect fit, and wrapped herself in the crimson cloak. It was not a new garment, but its color had suggested it could not have been. The signs of use were essential to its place as her shroud. In the way she had stopped questioning the ghost of Ansa in the room she’d been given and the clothes she now wore, she did not question her red cape. The paper fluttered down like quick flighty wings and she, moth to a flame, was fast to retrieve it.

Kvell’s note was enough to worry her; she was not unaware of the children’s story he conjured, and she clutched the edge of her cloak with some chilly realization. In what she knew of her brother, he would only play one role in this. Nathan’s hastily added script simply undermined that little fright. She peeked beneath the table for the basket anyway. When she had retrieved it, Ophelia settled on the edge of the infirmary bed to think. Both men demanded of her without any accord. To listen to one was to invite the punishment of the other. Days before, Nathan’s note might have simply been a warning from someone to whom she’d become dear. But the slick run of Kvell’s blood down his temple was a firm line in her mind. None of them were innocent. Not Kvell, not Nathan, and not she.

In the end, Kvell was her master first. She would beg Nathan’s forgiveness as it was required, she decided, and left the paper on the table where her clothes had been. Basket set neatly over her arm, she went to the door, the soft strains of some foreboding tune slipping from beneath as she drew near. It made her hesitate, because somehow this whole prelude was more sinister than the rest. Perhaps it was because she knew the tangled place she held now, or the haste in Nathan’s script, or the way she had felt more alone than ever before when she’d emerged from the slumber Kvell had submerged her in. As if she seemed to have recalled her old God, she crossed herself solemnly before pushing the handle and opening the surreal scene her brother had prepared.

It was as if she’d been set back out into the garden, but the walls and the masked figures said otherwise. She felt her breath catch. Ophelia had guessed, from the dusty light through the windows, that she’d slept for some time. Still, to be thrust now into a strange fairytale land when this had been a corridor to the house’s other rooms just hours before was startling. Beyond that, the lax way in which the servants all mingled was unnerving. She couldn’t have said why, but there was a lack of care that made her feel as if she’d been severed from this place. A guest again, with her basket of sugary offerings.

Ophelia glanced over her shoulder, as if reconsidering taking up this path, and was met with her brother in the only mask that could have suited him. She swallowed back that peculiar feeling he conjured inside her, something akin to fear but laced with anticipation, and nearly took a step back when he came to her. Her dark eyes were wide, looking at the wolf’s face for explanations she was certain he would not give.

She closed her eyes when he tucked her into the deep hood and did not open them when his thumb grazed her lip. It did not take much for him to stir her, and she made a soft sound under the touch. Had she been wrong, perhaps? This game could be kind, like yesterday. Ophelia had not hated any part of it, even when he had let the vines hold her with their sharp fingers. If this day was to be the same, sweetness with the edges that suited him, she could be eager for it. She was quick to follow the way he moved her, ready to taste his mouth on her own, and cried out when he tossed her to the side and met her flesh with his teeth.

A strangled sob and she reached with her opposite arm to touch his cheek, a wordless beg for his sympathy as she crumbled under him. Ophelia was not a fighter. She never had been, never had resisted him strongly, and it would have been utterly beyond her to do so now. She fell when he let her, clutching her shoulder and sobbing, looking up at him through those star-scattered lashes and imploring because she had still not learned these games were for his pleasure whether she had done something to deserve them or not.

In all this, he had not said a word to her. She was whimpering, panting, her own blood slicking her fingers as she watched him walk away and then turn back. As if to say, “ready or not,” he stood and was a very real wolf to the bleeding girl. She scrambled to her feet. She was to run then. So Ophelia ran. The moment he took his first step toward her, she was fleeing. But to flee is to invite the chase, and so she did not look back as she ran.
Title: Re: Ash and Roar
Post by: Verse on February 20, 2017, 07:47:28 pm
Lovely little sister and all the things in her that called for him. She was not Ansa, then, the same way she had refused to be her all this time, when she pleaded with a touch as his teeth clasped at the cloak, and her shoulder through it. If the shove to send her away  had seemed like requested mercy, his leaps did not. A pulse steadily hammered his diaphragm and the grass was good on his feet. He could also be long-legged in the woods then, but perhaps of a strong crown and abusive tendencies, a bull to her fawn. He caught up too quickly, he realized, killing his own amusement fast at this pace. So he took a reckless speed when he chased her around a corner, and made sure to dig his heels into the grass too late. A tumble, all those endless arms and legs swirling like a laid down spinning top, that came to a dull crack against the wall. Grunts and huffs as he stood, brushing splinters off his bare torso. What  glorious fun we have.

He couldn’t see her anymore, and that was lovely. When his echo left, he dropped his masked head to listen. The patter from a bunny and a raccoon cut into what he wanted to hear and his throat found a large sound to quiet them. King of these woods. Then Ophelia’s lungs and soles spoke to him. He was off again. Such a fatalistic sense of direction, his sister, taking the laid out route. He imagined that he could sample her scent from here, even. Their distance shrunk, but she gave good game, now that she could take time to choose her turns. There was grass almost everywhere for her.

He was close to frantic with the joy of the hunt when he caught her twisting around another bend, and continued to stress. Soon he had eyes on her flailing cover, her skirts lifting too, reminding him that she was also a delicious woman, playing with him. A madness took the eyes inside the mask, and he stomped off, clawing at the dancing fabric, the color of her insides. He missed, but didn’t stumble this time. It all mixed to panic in her, and she finally veered from the grass, into a blackened path with a window at the other end, far. Surely there would be a door or something for her to flee through.

But she was wrong in guessing so. His feet, when there was floor to meet them, held some furious momentum until that waned. A lazy walk with endless reach can also make hasty pace. He drummed his fists against the walls and the dull sounds ushered in her demise, rhythmically. She would find that there was only that window, overlooking the labyrinth. How beautiful, Ophelia, surrounded by light. He hammered faster, the funnel of noise shaking them both in this private tunnel. He wondered what kind of shape we was cutting to her eyes, that must be spoiled by the sun and only  barely adjusting to look back into the shadow barrel he was coming from.

He’d pursued her well, because when she tried to press herself against the window – she knew the game he wanted – and he tried her skin with his fingertips, her cheek was touched with glistening sweat. What a lovely, warm morsel she was now, afraid in her exhales. “You shouldn’t have gone from the path.” He said and took her hands to place them on the back of his neck. “But let’s be friends anyway. I won’t betray you.” To remind her what tale they were in, and give her hopelessness back if adrenaline had diluted it. He lifted her easily, weight like Ansa, but they never felt the same. There was no rebellion in the way she helped by keeping close. With her breath still hoping to pay back the deficit of oxygen they’d built, kissing her was a delight. She gasped and flung the back of her head against the glass every time he let her resurface from their tight faces and his oppressive tongue. Little sister would let him snuff her like this, even.

He was appropriately ravenous, and didn’t play like a lover with her against the window for too long. The clothes came away, as was their duty, and the cloak became a bed on the floor where sun streaks heated the blood thing into a blanket of fever. She was her pallid self on it, and he kissed her stomach, forehead to the apex of her ribs as he held her in place with hands on her hips. On his knees. Tongue hard, digging against the skin, that was soft, but not that soft. The resistance in her first layer aggravated the beast he was playing and he started to nip soon. She had better protest with her music that he’d become accustomed to. And she filled the corridor with her voice when he bit into their contract. If she fought he’d hold her down and pull with his teeth. It was time for them to have their last, waking moment together, said his lust.

And later, months, Kvell Oleander stood there in the room where the floor had candles like grass. Two angels now, unmoving like true judgment. The first celestial, that had greeted Ophelia, was ornamental. A statue built on Ansa’s ashes. But for his perversion, the latest sister was beside her. Twins in black in this room of death and an older brother’s whims. Kvell had his arm around his side, pitifully. Nathan came into the room and looked up at Ophelia where Kvell’s devastating, murdering lusts had suspended her. Another funeral like this.

“Are you happy now, brother?” he asked, fists by his sides. “She went into this with you, because she is a saint. All the things Ansa taught you, and you couldn’t help yourself a second time.” Between teeth, grim.

Kvell had his eyes on then Angel Ophelia. Nathan thought Kvell was stunning in this room, made from the shapes that candles make out of obstacles. “I love her, you know.” Kvell explained. “And this is how I love. I love her no less than Ansa, and so here she is. Isn’t she beautiful?” As though the dead need explanation.

“You are a monster. Everything you love dies by your hand.” Nathan said and sighed with misery.

“Not everything.” Kvell corrected.

Back at the window, in their game of red and wolf, Kvell was bloody mouthed and euphoric, teaching Ophelia what it was like to dance at Death’s threshold before stepping away from the living fray itself. He’d signed it finally, that contract that bound them. How easily he scooped her up by the back of her neck, and let her head fall over one edge of his hand, the rest of her naked, trailing on the floor so he could lift her throat up for a rosy kiss. There was no brother, there was only whatever thing her beauty made of him. And he presented teeth, rows widely parted, pink and red and white, in a mouth that was eager to take her breath far away.

They’d not heard the hunter, who’d been given the boots for the fox hunt, and a good jacket to ride in. Rifle in hand. A click, maybe the stirring Ophelia would see, but not Kvell, mesmerized by her pillars of blood and air. The beast came down on her, eager for a haunting taste, and then an image to remember her by. A billow of smoke, and a crack of powder sending hail. Kvell caught the malweather in his bare side, and was thrown out the window, nails cutting her where he’d held, but not bringing her along. He rolled off the slant of the roof, spinning top, again, in the Oleander garden air, and fell onto the gravel to make the pebbles into rubies. Half his face was wolf, and the other half was open lips, trying to pull his breath back. Nathan hung the rifle on his shoulder and started tearing the cloak to tie it around her pretty bleeding. “No more games today. And don’t worry. This is his design. Our holy, indulgent master.” Salvation for her in the faded daylight.

Kvell by the two encased angels reached up, despite the lingering pain from the rubber pellets used to subdue riots at his mine. His hands soothed Opehlia as she struggled in the chains that kept her above the worshiping candles. “Don’t you like saving her, brother?” Kvell asked Nathan’s shame. “How will you do that if there isn’t a handsome villain torturing her, eating her piece by piece?” He plucked her down from the hooks. He kissed the outlines of her hair in the restrictive material and held her to him. “Would you like to play some more now, Ophelia?”