Revival, Act IV: Confession and Counsel

Tales of Jaycynda Ashleana and her associates.

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Revival, Act IV: Confession and Counsel

Post by Jaycy Ashleana » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:16 am

A minor flash of light heralded the arrival of the Baroness; one moment the Arena was empty and the next the redhead was stepping forward as if she'd just descended the stairs. Bare feet stirred little dust as they padded silently toward one of the several empty rings; not the nearest but one in a farther corner. Tonight saw the woman garbed perhaps differently than those had seen her in years; long silver chemise had poofed sleeves that tied at the wrists underneath a black bodice that carried a winged tiger embroidered, roaring with wings extended, silver. Gypsy skirts, undertone of azure blue and overskirt of forest green completed the main ensemble. Hair was in that signature braid and her old trusted short sword was belted at her hip.

Upon arrival at her designated ring, she unbelted the sword from her and drew naked steel, dropping scabbard and leather before easing into the sands that marked one of the famed rings. Just inside, toes curled and wiggled in the sands. Her eyes closed and she tilted her head back lightly, leaving the blade hanging loosely at her side.

That tilt turned into a roll as her head swept around, slow and stretching. A few circuits before she moved lower, rotating shoulders one at a time to warm them. Down her body she went, circling, limbering... finally ending at those bare ankles, picking one from the sands to rotate and setting it again only to lift the other one. Only then did she move closer to the center of the ring, shuffling without picking up her feet and allowing trails to be riven into the sands.

At center, she dipped the sword into the sands and etched a single, long line in front of her. A little smile curved her lips upward as she regarded the thing, sparing a very short glance toward the stairs as if expecting someone to suddenly appear with the summoning. None appeared immediately however and she returned her gaze to directly in front of her.

She bowed to the air on the other end of the line and then raised the sword to ready, ever in that strange two-handed grip that she'd afforded ever since wielding this blade some more than 20 years ago. A deep breath in, then out ... and she closed her eyes.

Her movements, when begun, where slow, form beginning to shift with a lightness that didn't even stir the edges of her skirts. Barely a dozen grains of sand were disturbed with the way she picked up her feet and replaced them. From an easy turn to the side she flowed, sending that blade outward as if aiming a strike at the shoulder of her illusory opponent. From there the blade dipped in as if to trap a retaliatory strike.

Unlike in a live match, where pauses and considerations lengthened the time between movements, this was one smooth pattern from attack to defense and back again. She never ceased in that dance, staying slow and fluid. Then, here was a pause in the rhythm, just a moment before she slowly dove forward, headfirst, coming to a lazy somersault and to her feet before spinning enough to lift the edges of her skirts off her calfs.

She eventually returned to her original position, lowering the blade and offering a bow to the silent side of the ring. Only then did she open her eyes. The line remained unbroken before her.

She puffed out a breath.

She began the ritual and ceremony again from the very beginning, bow to salute to pattern of the dance but only this time faster. The increase wasn't greater, but skirts fluttered minutely about her calves as movements caused more turbulence. New patterns came in this dance, from high to low attack and then a spin into a straight attack. An elbow added another dimension in the retaliation to her illusionary opponent, and she spun away immediately.

"You look like you missed it." His voice carried on the winds prior to his arrival, which wasn't anything flashy.. he was just.. there.

She paused, stumbled, stilled from her pattern at the voice. A little gasp before she was able to recover but, still ... she did not mar that line. "Tass," she breathed. The blade dipped, fell idle, but the point did not touch the sands.

His steps carried him around the ring she housed, drawing him directly across from her, that coy grin on his lips.

Breath a little shallow, the beginnings of exertion (though she'd only just started her workout), green-gold eyes traced the path he took, stuck on him. A smile as she dipped her head; could this be in welcome, or offer, or even outright challenge?

He leaned on the ropes there, taking neither the bait nor the challenge, but he did speak up. "Summoning someone could be dangerous. Never know who that someone will be when they show." His hand flipped lazily down and waved at the line she had drawn. "And they may cross that line." Oh, the grin there.

"Aye, but I know as well as you do all the ghosts that may come from this place, love, and those that can and would cross the line ... we've both faced before." A brow lifted and she didn't return the grin, retaining the gentler smile. "In fact, look who came this time." You. "And I do know you'd cross that line, m'love, and yet I'm glad to have you here anyway."

He didn't acknowledge the truth to any of those statements any farther than a wink. "So here stands the past that has answered the summons of one who has much on her mind. What would you have of me?"

"A kiss, a dance... what do you have to give?" Her head tilted. "Mayhaps some counsel."

"I've all three this night."

"Where shall we begin?" That grin, now, pulled from his response. "I leave the choice to you, as summoned and welcomed being, you hold the power over me, for if I'm not careful, you might disappear at the slightest provoke." Perhaps it was the man himself, or the old challenge garb, or the life of the ritual she'd begun, but her speech and mannerisms tended toward more formal.

"True. Since you did not summon me and bind me, I am a wisp, free to flit as I see fit. Perhaps then I'll dance with kisses, or counsel a dance, or kiss a counsel."

She barked a laugh, shifting until the bulk of her weight was settled on one hip and leg. Still, she didn't relax so much that the blade touched ground unintentionally; she'd too much respect for her old friend. "Indeed," she concurred. "So... I await your pleasure."

He straightened from his lean against the ropes, and was gone.
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Re: Revival, Act IV: Confession and Counsel

Post by Jaycy Ashleana » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:18 am

She snorted at his sudden absence, not perturbed by his fickle moods, and with a shrug to herself took her position once more in front of the line. He would return as he willed, when he willed, and she wouldn't chase his precense. While he was beloved, time had shifted the sands of their love and she'd fallen into a more settled sense of them within the last months. While his absence did make her heart grow fonder, the presence of her second partner - Hope Naharis - had billowed in the hole he'd left. It wasn't that Hope replaced him, but she fulfilled a need that Tass never would.

For it had always been his choice.

A deep, steadying breath, and she bowed once more, only half expecting him to reappear opposite her, on the other side of that line.

He appeared behind her and slipped a kiss to her cheek, his lips barely touching, but the breath there warm as the sun. His voice was barely above a whisper, but in the quiet basement, it reverberated. "So, what counsel do you seek?" Then he was gone again.

Recovered from the bow when she felt that kiss, she chuckled, not bothering to turn behind her. The blade came up. "Mart has my ring." And the keys to the vehicle, but that was wholly unimportant beyond the Overlady's interest in enjoying such a perk. "He is guardian of it until he deems I've earned it once more." She had no issue with the fact that it remained in his custody; work to regain that honor was well more than a few mere months could suffice. Her banner, however...

Before she moved, her gaze flicked to the empty place where her banner should be; she'd demanded its removal upon her surrender of the ring. "While I trust his judgement, I wonder how much or how long I should continue to punish myself." She didn't yet move lest he make another appearance, but she stood in that ready position.

He appeared in the ring, opposite that line, and the old ironwood was there in hand. "Why subjugate yourself to another's judgement when you are more harsh than anyone else can be?"

The autocaller activated upon recognition of their movements and it sound a ring call to “Questrion.”

What a ring name, with the history associated in that word. It was as if the Arena itself were cognizant of the weight of the moments - Jaycy's clothing, her mannerisms, the tenure of the two within it...

She didn't bow toward him - she'd already done that - but she did intone the ritual words. "Skill and honor, m'lord." She crouched a little in her stance, not beginning to circle as she normally might. This was perhaps so she could consider the question. Finally, she thought she had an answer, and vocalized it. "Mayhaps because deep down I know that forgiveness by another comes easier - even if still harsh - and it's a tempering mechanism from my own wrath."

He nodded to her, in his own way, and smiled. "Skill and honor, m'lady."

Then he kicked the staff and it spun of it's own accord, a life within given movement, while he stood there and weighed her words... judged them.

Even as she spoke, her blade turned in a short circle, a small defensive manuever designed to protect her lower half. It was cautious and her gaze shifted from his eyes and toward that ironwood staff briefly. With the defense unimpeded, she was able to complete the circle and turn the blade once more to ready.

"It is you who must forgive. You cannot place that weight on another, though he will gladly shoulder it. But it is not his burden to carry. You must forgive yourself. Another cannot do that." The staff stopped quickly, then he kicked it again, and it's base went out from under it to dart towards her shins.

She moved first, action before thought, leveling the blade and taking a quick hop-step in, extending her arm. The hop allowed her to edge over the staff and allow her to make bare contact, one hand leaving the hilt in order to keep maximum length, before turning to the side and withdrawing from easy distance. The arm retracted to bring the blade once more ready, tip slightly elevated. Only then did she consider his words.

"I think I'm starting to forgive," she admitted, finally. "Mayhaps as much as the completion of acts, the intention is important. For the first time, even with all of the baronies, the titles... I'm starting to try and become a leader.” She still didn't cross the line but she did close in, turning her wrists to send the blade downward and toward his own shins.

As the staff came back from his venture towards her feet, it twisted, turning end over end, slapping hers away before it settled once more before him. "Then if you are starting to forgive, why keep the burden on another?"

The blade dipped into the sands briefly, marking it with her ineffectual attempt. She inched back, taking a deep breath in and out as the blade rose. "Because I've only started, and not yet come to conclusions that I should seek him out." Her lips curved up in a small grin. "... which is why I'd asked for your counsel, m'love." The smirk faded and she bobbed her head, acknowledging. "You raise valid points."

He stood there and watched her a moment, then shifted and took a step... then another.. and another, only to turn and do the same the opposite direction. Pacing, it would seem, but at the same time, not.

"So, you would let fear rule? Is not the idea of a leader one who is brave? And is not bravery the act of being afraid, but doing what must be done anyways?"

Her shoulder dropped, imaginary attack incoming, but there was nothing more solid to avoid. It was a mere thought that had her once more ready.

"Bravery ... is action in the face of fear," she summarized with a nod to his words. "Aye, truth. But there is such a line between bravery and foolhardiness. Eating the flesh of people as if they were mutton - even when they were deserving ... doesn't that cross into foolhardy or even worse?" A light grimace accompanied her words; where was some guilt in that but at the same time she was saving the life of someone else.

"That would depend upon who you ask."
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Re: Revival, Act IV: Confession and Counsel

Post by Jaycy Ashleana » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:18 am

Then he took the staff to hand. His step was quick and he crossed that line, and shoved it forward.

Perhaps she wasn't expecting him to cross the line, after all. Or she was underestimating the reach of that ironwood stuff. Or she wasn't ready for the answer. Either way, she was wholly unprepared for the strike and it sent her not only stumbling back but falling onto her rear with a yelp. The blade fell from her grasp but as she scrambled up, she recovered it easily enough. "I'm asking you, oh wise counsel." A whisper of smile; even as she spoke, she sought retribution. Not a hard strike, of course, but a few steps' lunge in.

He stepped back and returned to the other side of the line. Setting the staff back to it's place, he let it go and once more took to walking.

Missing cleanly, she subsided.

"Would you consider then it foolhardy to kill one who means you or your loved ones harm? Be it a blade in the heart or teeth to the throat, the act is the same."

He paused as he returned to the staff and looked to her over a shoulder. "Or perhaps you seek to deny the dragon it's jealousy?" The staff was kicked once more, and the top end toppled out, darting towards her.

"Kill, there's no question." She waved that away, dismissing by lifting her hand from the hilt of the blade. "Even with teeth. But mantling over a kill, feasting after..." She trailed off. While that wasn't quite the truth of what she'd done; it was more like snack on just the first one and not the other two she'd killed, she did do more than merely kill. Eyes widened as she saw the staff's movement and she dropped her shoulders to get just under it.

"Jealousy, no, love. Possession, aye. But I can share." Resuming the threads of conversation, her assertions held confidence - one lover was shared between her and another, not even quite equally, and she could say goodbye in the morning and see her off with a kiss and no concern. "I think as I've more than one myself, jealousy remains absent."

That was a measure of difference between her and Tass; he'd hoard one and one alone. Jaycy came from the mindset that there was little greater joy than sharing love and thus was content that was long as someone was partly hers she could manage them not being wholly hers. Or perhaps she just hadn't gotten to the same frame as Tass yet. Only time would tell.

She stepped in, arcing that blade toward his shins. At the last second, controlled, she turned the wrists to send the flat of the blade those last few inches toward him instead of the biting edge.

"You speak of love and lovers, but that is not all that a dragon can hoard, or grow jealous of."

The staff came back and settled parallel, which didn't do anything to stop her blade from slapping him.

It was a bare touch, not wanting to injure or even really sting. Backing away, she canted her head lightly. "Truth, but when have I ever cared for more?"

He touched the staff, and it went after her. The ends continued to be to the sides, thus the length of the staff sought to pin her.

She shifted away, catching wind of his intentions just in time to get out of the way but not much more.

As the staff returned, it twisted around and swiped at her shins. "That would be a question to ask yourself, and the one you are afraid of."

She swatted at the staff, more reaction than anything else, with the blade. It reverberated and she had to spin the blade fully once to right her grip. "Mmm," she murred in response. "You've given me much to think about, m'love. Thus, you're giving me all three tonight, as I've asked for. Do you have any additional advice that might bring some comfort to my heart? Or... more likely, cause heartburn and consternation and self-reflection?" The grin made a reappearance.

As the staff settled, he bent over, and his hand reached for something there in the sands of the ring. As he righted, he looked at it over and over, examining it as if it was the most fascinating thing. Then he threw it at her feet, a grin to his lips as he did so. "No matter how pretty someone finds something, another will think it crap. Treasure what you want, and screw everyone else's thoughts on it."

Caught by his action, the movement was half-thought and sparse, and then failed completely. Her gaze followed that item - curious - and left her target for anything else he might use to punish her for her inattention to an opponent. It should have been be no surprise that she was bending down to retrieve whatever he'd tossed at her feet.

His hand caught the staff and he moved, quickly. His feet once more stepped over the line, but the staff was gone, and his hand caressed her as she dropped to retrieve the gem. "Let not a diamond in the sand distract you from the steel that is more valuable."

Mid-stretch, caught by the caress, she chuckled. No doubt, though, she retrieved the gem before straightening. "Those are indeed wise words. I also have some hopefully wise words. Don't forget the diamond in the sand, either, for it may become steel in the future." With a smile she upturned her palm, opening fingers to reveal that which he'd tossed at her. Hand extended in offer to return it.

He winked to her and lifted his hand, only to wrap hers in it, folding her fingers around that diamond. Then he leaned in and set a kiss to her, only to fade away, the last piece of him to go being those lips on hers. The line, that she had drawn in the sand, was gone with him.

Fingers caged the diamond again and she lifted that hand to those lips, joining the two for a moment before tucking the gem in the confines of her bodice. The other continued to keep that blade out of the sands, but just barely. "Thank you, m'love," she whisped, eyes bright and shining. A tear did escape, a single one, but the smile remained - this was no sad release. "I think mayhaps it's time to get home." Said to the air - or not - she turned her head toward that empty space on the wall, thoughtfully.

Several minutes passed before she reclaimed scabbard and belt and sheathed the blade. She took a step off the sands and, before her second foot had left the ancient ring, she disappeared with a flash of rainbow light.
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