Ashen Hand – Aria Stories

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    (I am posting this story first because it was not only a crucial moment for Aria, but it showed our in guild conflict.  She had gotten her arse kicked by House Ku-Mara (the enemy of the Ashen Hand), and she had to deal with the outcome. )

    A quiet corner

    As Aria watched Scribbles leave the brothel she did not know what to say.  She turned and quietly watched Takoda and Sarge say their goodbyes.  She had said enough, and now words failed her.  Her stomach was in knots.  She was physically and mentally exhausted, and her shoulder and side wounds were throbbing.    She rubbed her forehead willing the headache to go away.

    Admitting to Takoda what happened was harder on Aria than the beating itself, and somehow it was even worse that Kae was there to witness her admissions.   She knew she had made a mistake, and she paid for it dearly.   It was not the physical wounds that bothered her as much as it was the fact that she had let down the Ashen Hand.  She had allowed herself to be used as a pawn in the on going battle with House ku-Mara.  She knew she totally deserved the rebuke from Takoda, but she was not happy about Sarge piling on.  All Aria could do was listen stoically and accept responsibility.    She was not about to be accused of being a whiner or complainer, but she could not help but grit her teeth at the situation as it unfolded.   The fact that she expected Las to be there ahead of her as backup did not mitigate what happened, but she was unsure why it did not matter at all.

    She wondered why Scribbles just listened and barely commented.  Aria marveled at her restraint because Kae rarely holds back her opinion when it comes to something Aria has done or said.  Then she grimly remembered that now she was required to attend training with her, and she assumed that she would hear more about her opinion then.  Aria knew that the training would be tough, but she was determined to show she was up to the task.  Aria was happy that Scribbles was back because she knew it was good for the Hand, and way deep down inside she knew it was good for her.  She pushed aside the thought because she was loath to admit that even to herself.  She fervently hoped that this event did not totally ruin what little trust she had with her.    As she came out of her thoughts, she realized the room was almost empty except for a few regulars.  Aria slowly made her way to the door to leave with the gravity of the situation weighing her down, and every foot step was harder than the last.

    After emerging from the building and going down the front steps, Aria stopped to contemplate where to go.  The cool night air helped to clear her head, and she realized that even though she was totally and completely exhausted, she could not sleep.  She decided to stop by Suds and find a quiet corner to think.


    Britta had just finished putting Kindlepitch away for the evening, and she was too keyed up from her journey to go find a bed for the night.  She headed to Suds to have a wine to relax first.  As she entered, she looked around as she headed to the bar for a drink, and she thought she saw Aria by herself in a back corner.  Her initial reaction was to get her drink and go in an opposite direction.  However, Laszra’s words rung in her head, and she decided to go ahead and talk to her even though she did not really know what to say.

    After getting her drink, she slowly made her way over to the table where Aria sat all alone with a mug of something.  As she got closer, she could see that she simply had a mug of water, and it reminded her suddenly of the first time she saw her.  She stopped and watched her for a second noting her downcast demeanor.   Aria sensed her presence and looked up, and Britta was shocked at the extensive bruising on her face.  Britta blurted out   “Oh, for pity sake, what in Oblivion happened to you?”    She simply shook her head and looked back down at her water, but it was the momentary anguish Britta saw in her eyes that shook her to her core.  Where was the confident brash Aria who always seemed so upbeat?  Britta quietly sat down at the table, and after waiting a minute in silence, she gently said “So, what happened?”

    After waiting for her to answer, she started to think that Aria was going to ignore her, but finally Aria responded. “I screwed up, and the ku-Mara made me pay for it.”    As she paused and took a sip of water, Britta found herself getting angry and a strange protective instinct welled up inside her.  “Those bastards…”  Aria oddly shook her head at this outburst, “that is not the problem.”    Britta was floored. She echoed “Not the problem?”    Again, Aria made her wait, but she did not push.  She now sensed that what she really needed was someone to listen so she waited.

    When Aria finally spoke, she said softly “I let them use me as a pawn, and I am afraid I have become the problem.  I let down Takoda….Scribbles….basically everybody.”   Britta responded, “What happened that makes you feel this way?”    Aria rubbed her eyes with one hand and said “I just can’t talk about it anymore tonight.   Every part of me aches, and my stomach is in knots.   I want to go to bed, but I’m not sure I could get any sleep.”   Britta jumped up and said “hold on, I have an idea, “ and she headed over to the bar.

    Aria glanced up as Britta left, and she fleetingly wondered why Britta was even talking to her.  She made a wry face as she recalled that Britta was just one more person she had let down.   She watched as Britta leaned in and spoke softly to the bartender and then became curious as he scurried around behind the bar.  Finally, she came back with a mug in her hand.  “Here drink this.  It’s an old family recipe.”  Aria eyed it and did not take the mug.  “Go on, take it, this will help you relax so you can get some sleep.”  Slowly she took the mug, and she tentatively took a sip of the warm red concoction.

    As she realized it was some sort of spiced wine, she started to feel warmth begin in her stomach and spread out from her body to her limbs.  It was a pleasant sensation, and it helped to relax her as she continued to sip it.  “Thanks”   Britta nodded and sat down.  “I don’t even know why you are bothering to help me.”  Britta responded “You know why.”   After that, they sat in companionable silence drinking, and before long, Aria started to drift off to sleep in her chair.  Britta, got up, and helped Aria up to a room upstairs for the night.   Aria was not very steady on her feet, so she stayed to help her get into bed.  Britta was shocked by the damage to her shoulder and right side of her torso, but she refrained from comment.  She knew she would demand to know later what happened.   For now though, she was content to see that Aria was already asleep before she left the room.



    (Might I add that the training Aria endured was epic…)



    To set up this next story is a must.  RP-ly there was a bitter battle in Ansei’s Rest (the town of the Ashen Hand) whens T’s vampire character in House ku’Mara is discovered in town and tries to escape.   Aria was bitten, and there was more fallout than anyone could have guessed.  In an attempt to prevent Aria from turning into a vampire, there was a long sea journey (lots of rp enroute) to someone who had the power to undo the damage.  This is probably one of the darkest stories I wrote.


    Haunted by Evil   (Crimson Claw: 3rd Evening Star)


    Darkness, that is all she sees, but she knows her eyes are open.  Slowly, things become lighter, and she sees a face hovering above her.  It’s a woman grinning down at her.  Her dark hair hangs forward, and her red eyes seem to glow with an energy that is fearsome to behold.  As Aria tries to recall who she is, she notices that her sharp extended canine teeth are dripping blood.  Aria wants to cry out, to strike out, to push this thing away from her, but she can’t…her body is not her own.  All she can do is look up into the face of evil.  She begins staring at the dripping blood, fascinated and repulsed at the same time.   As her vision fades, a seductive voice whispers in her ear, “Come on love, enjoy it.  You don’t deserve the gift I have given you, but you belong to me now.”  An eerie chuckle seems to resonate inside her head just as the vision fades completely.

    A strange grey mist surrounds Aria as she wakes.  Laying on her back, she finds herself staring up at the moon.  It’s a bright light that hurts her eyes, and as she raises an arm to protect her eyes, she sees blood on her hand in stark contrast to her pale skin.  A sense of urgency drives her to roll on her side and scramble to her feet.  Realizing she is on the roof of the brothel, she tries to hurry to the door.  As she starts out, she stumbles over something and falls to her knees.   She tries to quickly get back to her feet, but every movement seems slowed and disjointed, like a puppet on a string. Glancing back, she gasps as she sees she tripped over the body of Flowers.  He looks like he has been savaged by a wild animal, and most of his throat had been ripped out.  Blood is everywhere.

    Aria sprints to the door, and as she hits it with her hand, it slams open and bounces back off the wall with a bloody hand print.  Frantic now, she races down the stairs, and as she hits the first floor, all she can see are dead bodies everywhere. Some she knows; some she doesn’t.  Her panic puts her in full flight, and as she tries to turn towards the front door running, she slips on the blood slick floor.  She goes down hard on her hip and skids to a stop with her face inches from a corpse with its eyes open staring right at her.  Immediately she scrambles backwards with her hands and feet like a mudcrab to get away from this thing that was Takoda.

    Somehow, Aria finds herself outside, and she sees a familiar figure hunched over a body on the ground.  The woman whips her head around and hisses at Aria, but then she smiles.  Aria has come to a full stop several feet from her, and all she can do is stand there as the vampire gets up wiping the blood from her chin.  Grinning now, she approaches Aria who is helpless to respond.  Their eyes lock.  Aria is horrified by her tormentor, but she can’t form any words.  She growls out unintelligible sounds which the other seems to take great pleasure in.

    “Yessss” she hisses.  “You understand now don’t you?”  The vampire walks up to Aria who is standing still as a stone, and she reaches out a hand towards her face.  “You are my child” she growls softly with pure pleasure evident in her voice, and she caresses Aria’s face with her hand.  As she pulls her hand away, she shows Aria the blood, and then she slowly licks the blood from her fingers.  “I have a present for you my dear.”   She walks towards the body on the ground as she beckons her forward with her hand.  Aria cannot take her eyes off this woman as she moves forward unwillingly.  “This one will make you strong.  You shall feed and drink deeply….then I will know you are mine.”

    Finally the lock on her vision is released, and she is able to slowly scan the body from the boots upward.  The blue armor seems familiar, and she notes that the person is still breathing as the chest plate moves up and down slightly.  A growing sense of horror invades her mind.  Aria tries to not look up from the chest plate, but suddenly she feels her mind invaded.  She has no choice but to look up to the face of this…meal.  Just as she registers that the blond on the ground is Britta, her mind snaps!

    “AHHHHHHHHHHH” her scream is interrupted as she slams into something hard.  Her eyes open, and she sees that she is laying on a wooden floor.  As her senses return to her, she realizes that she is on the floor next to her bunk on the ship.  Falling off her bunk must have broken the hold that the nightmare had on her.   Breathing hard and not sure what is real, she clenches her fists until her fingernails dig into her skin to the point of pain.  She smells the familiar scent of blood which brings back the vision of Britta, and she starts to retch. Her body convulses as she tries to expel the blood that is only in her mind.  With nothing in her stomach but fluid, it does not take long to throw up what little there is.  As her body calms down, Aria reaches up and drags herself up to a sitting position on her bunk.

    She looks around seeing no one, and she starts to shiver as she feels a cool breeze coming from the doorway.  Aria pulls a blanket around her, and she is momentarily grateful no one saw her in this sorry state.  Suddenly she starts to panic.  Where is everyone?  Maybe it wasn’t a dream.  Aria puts her head in her hands, and she tries to tamp down the growing fear in her mind.  She is not sure she can finish this journey…..not sure she wants to….   A manic laugh starts to bubble up out of her as she says out loud “how hard could it be?”   She claps both hands over her mouth as she tries to fight her desire to provoke Scribbles into killing her.


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