Break

The following is another short piece of fiction based on RP that took place on gw2. Seyda is my character but the others were not created by me, they belong to their respective players. In other words the only thing I can take cred for here is the text itself, as it is my interpretation of unplanned and unrestricted events from RP. It describes a terribly unpleasant scene with both physical and emotional violence, and mention of sexual abuse, so I suppose I should say something about trigger warnings. So yeah, consider yourself warned.

***

It was early in the afternoon, though it still felt like morning. The evening before had seemed never ending, long and painful. Seyda made her way through the kitchen, found a clean cup, and filled it with water. She glanced back at the floor, but saw no trace of blood. The maid had cleaned it up well.

Silently she went upstairs, came into the office. There was a pungent smell in the air, the sour scent of vomit. The girl lay just where she had been left the night before, tied to the couch. Her red hair spread over the cushions in a chaotic mess. Her cheek black and blue, one eye closed, the other swollen shut. The remnants of her last meal splattered over both the couch and the floor.

Pushing any sympathy far away, Seyda walked across the room, and came to sit by Lily’s side. She ignored the foul stench and reached out to touch the girl’s hair.

Lily opened an eye, and tried to speak. With a voice that barely held she finally managed only a couple of words.

“I’m sorry.”

Seyda wished the girl was still gagged. There was nothing to say, not now.

Knocks on the front door down below drove Seyda from the room. She had asked both Armian and Skadi to come, though for what reason they knew not. Armian seemed surprised that his boss opened the door herself, but quickly found his usual, somber expression.

“Ma’am. You needed me?”

“Did you see Skadi out there?”

“I didn’t see anyone.”

“Go upstairs, untie Lily and see if she can stand on her own two feet.”

Not surprisingly the instructions make him frown. He always had a soft spot for women, Lily was no exception. With all her faults the young woman still managed to pull at your heartstrings, like an abused puppy waiting to be loved, or a beloved doll from a childhood memory.

Before Armian had taken more than a few steps there was knocking on the door again, and he turned to let Skadi in. The two hadn’t met, Seyda suddenly realized. So many new faces these last few months. So many still only scratching the surface. Skadi was a strange one, tall and muscular as Norns tended to be, with icy blonde hair and eye catching tattoos adorning her skin. Next to her, Armian looked small. Dark hair, dark skin, showing his Elonian heritage clearly. And next to him, Seyda herself was dwarfed. Funny how the smallest person in the room could carry the most authority.

“Skadi, this is Armian. He has been with me many years now.” She paused, and added while looking at the back of his head. “Fully trusted, one of the best we have.”

It was of course a way of saying that yes, you can speak freely in front of each other. No need to hide who we are. No need to lie. Armian acknowledged the compliment by tilting his head in a silent nod.

“Was afraid I was too late,” Skadi said. “The boy you sent seemed a bit out of breath when he finally found me. What’s this about?”

Seyda waited to answer until they were all upstairs, wishing to let them see Lily first. They all stopped to gaze at the miserable creature, and Armian’s nose wrinkled at the smell. Humiliation reeked from the girl, it was oddly refreshing. Better that than the emptiness she had displayed before.

“Lily scratched Rohgal so badly that he might lose an eye,” Seyda said blankly. “We’re bringing her down to the Southern Storage for now, she can’t stay here.”

“Six. Those two wouldn’t stop bickering.”

Seyda shook her head at Armian. “Not bickering. She tried to kill him. Now untie her, see if she can stand.”

“I…,” Lily’s protest was weak. “I wasn’t trying to kill him.”

The comment knocked Seyda out of her intent not to speak directly to the girl. This treatment would have a greater impact if Lily was isolated, unknowing and fearful, but Seyda had to reply.
A little spark of anger made her voice take on a harsher tone.

“Well you certainly were trying to take his eyes, at the very least. Now be quiet, there will be time for talking later.”

Seyda didn’t think it true. At that moment, when Lily had flung herself at the much bigger man, clawing at his eyes from behind, she had been in such a rage that she probably hadn’t herself known what she wanted. It wasn’t under control, it wasn’t premeditated. It was rage. And at that point, Lily had wanted him dead, of that there was no doubt.

Armian helped her stand, carefully undoing the restraints to get her off the couch and onto her feet. After these long hours her body had grown stiff and weak, but she could still stay upright. Skadi watched the scene before her, cracking her knuckles.

“So this is why you called?” she asked. “To move one girl?”

Well yes, Seyda wanted to say. Remember last time I sent you to fetch her? You let her slip away. One girl was apparently too hard. But of course, that she didn’t say. The less they’d say there and now the better.

With her head lowered, Lily took a few steps forward. Slowly, very slowly. Seyda stopped her with a raised finger.

“Not now.”

“I’m sorry.” Lily’s lips quivered, she seemed as vulnerable as a beaten dog. “Please don’t throw me out.”

Interesting. Not begging to be released. Begging to stay. Seyda wondered when fear would hit, when the girl would realize how close to death she could be.

It didn’t take long. When no one would answer her questions and refused to stop to speak, it seemed to dawn on her.

“Armian, it’s not that bad is it?”

“What’s happening?”

“Are you going to kill me?”

There it was. Fear, not merely humiliation and discomfort, was striking.

“No Lily,” Seyda finally said, keeping her voice empty and cold. “We are not going to kill you. But we will take you out of town, you need to come along quietly. If anyone asks, we are simply going for a picnic.

Seyda took a picnic basket on her arm, and off they went. It had been better to not speak at all, to keep her in the dark. But they had a long walk through town ahead of them, a walk that relied on the girl staying calm, quiet. Her bruised face and tear filled eyes was bad enough, but that couldn’t be helped.

Seyda went first. Behind her, Armian with Lily by his side. And further back the Norn, told to watch for trouble, to make sure no one follows or takes too much interest. It was still early in the day and the streets were bustling with life. Street vendors selling their products in open market stalls along the District Promenade, children enjoying the day off from school, Seraph on patrol. No one, not even the soldiers in their golden uniforms, seemed to take notice.

The girl didn’t scream, didn’t fight. She cried, but seemed defeated. Despite orders to stay silent she spoke.

Seyda refused to look back at her. Kind words and soft glances would not help. Armian kept the prisoner close, told her to stay quiet but didn’t enforce it when she begged to know where they were going. Couldn’t gag her in the open street. Couldn’t very well beat her either. Eventually the girl took his hand, or tried to. He let her touch, but turned the hand away, refused her the comfort of someone to hold on to. And she cried.

When they reached the city gates the journey had still just begun, it was a long walk down to the Southern Storage. Through Shaemoor, past two Seraph forts, no three, and onwards into the deep forests. Every time they passed through a fort Seyda greeted the Seraph with a polite nod, as always. Several wore familiar faces, and smiled back. Whatever she was feeling didn’t show, her appearance was as calm as ever. The bruised and crying girl caught some looks, but no more than that. There were no cries for help, nothing to suggest captivity, so no one stopped them.

“I… I’ll pay for all the medical bills. And… if he needs surgery? I’ll pay everything.”

“And… I’ll tell him I’m sorry, yes?”

“And I’ll… comb his beard for him.”

“And… And… Buy him a new pistol? Or, uhm. Daggers! Or whatever he wants!”

“Where are we going? Please tell me?”

Seyda’s response came not to her, but to Armian. “If she speaks again without permission, strike her.”

Armian frowned at the order, but finally nodded. That shut the girl up, words were replaced by more tears. And on they went.

They passed a trio of strangers near Shaemoor garrison. Two sylvari and one human man, that glanced their way. Seyda could hear mocking remarks as they walked passed. It was strangely satisfying. Such ignorance.

After having crossed a bridge they stepped off to the side, near a path leading away from the main road. Finally Seyda turned to look at those following her, prepared to speak. Her words got lost when she saw more people than she had expected, the trio from earlier on was there on the road behind them.

“Skadi…,” Seyda said quietly, turning her eyes to the Norn. “Did I not tell you to see if we were being followed?”

“Walking in the same direction is not necessarily following. This is an open road.”

Skadi shrugged, glancing back over her shoulder. The trio of strangers walked right past them, continued on down the road. Seyda didn’t like the idea of them seeing where they went off into the woods, but here they had to move on. She ordered Skadi to remain a while, make sure that the strangers didn’t follow them into the woods, to keep an eye on where they went, before she would come join them at the Southern Storage.

The prisoner started trembling when a pillowcase was pulled over her head, and Armian spun her around. Around and around, until the girl nearly fell, and would have thrown up if there had anything left in her stomach. Her head must have been throbbing already from the heavy blow from last night – in truth she was lucky to still be standing. Taking a punch to the face from a man four times your size was not without risk, after all.

When they deemed her sufficiently lost, they moved on through the woods. Down the overgrown path that kept getting smaller and smaller, until eventually they came upon the hidden storage. From afar it looked like an old centaur-made house upon a hill. Only when getting closer could one see that it didn’t have the centaurs’ usual weak walls and open ceilings, it was as sturdy as any man-made barn and didn’t have as much as a window one could peek through. By the door, kept shut by a heavy padlock, two armed men kept watch.

As Armian slowly led the prisoner inside, Seyda went across the room to light a fire in the otherwise dark room. Storage crates, bags and boxes of all sizes were packed along the walls, full of all that which the company shouldn’t have. The floor boards next to the fireplace were stained by blood, dry by now but still visible.

Not many moments after, Skadi hurries after them up the slope, and was let in by the gate guards. She seemed strangely excited when conveying that the strangers, those that had followed them down the road, had wandered after them into the woods as well. So far they hadn’t spotted the house, but who knew how long that luck would keep. Both Skadi and Armian were ordered out to deal with them, make sure they didn’t go anywhere near the place, and so Lily and Seyda found themselves alone.

Standing on her own, Lily at first simply stood still, shaking like a leaf. Then slowly she dared pull the pillowcase off her head, to look around.

“Come, sit.”

At the command, Lily dropped the pillowcase to the floor. A few quick, anxious steps forward before she fell to the floor, grasping for Seyda’s hand. The gesture was heart breaking,

Lily. Merlei. The girl with the red hair and the glass eye was both. Seyda knew her as Lily, the name taken to forget, hide, start over. Perhaps it was best to reclaim the old.

“Lily,” Seyda said quietly. “Merlei.”

The girl’s voice was frail and her eyes fearful as she whispered back, pleaded. “I’m sorry. Please don’t burn me. Please. I’m so sorry, I just lost it, I didn’t mean to hurt him.” She squeezed Seyda’s hand and pressed it against her damp cheek. The glass eye picked up the dance of the flames, a glimmering contrast to the darkness.

Seyda wanted to lean down and wrap her arms around her. Wanted to kiss her cheek and say that all would be well. Wanted to hold her still until there were no more tears. Instead she calmly and quietly asked.

“Do you remember losing your eye?”

“Yes.”

Lily’s cheek was cold and wet. She closed her eyes and held on to Seyda’s hand, a warm lifeline in a world of despair.

“You took another’s eye last night,” Seyda continued, her voice still low and calm. “And you claim you didn’t mean it. You meant it, Lily. Right then you wanted him dead.”

The words were swiftly swallowed by the empty room. They made the girl sob even heavier, she protested, claimed she hadn’t wanted him dead!

“Don’t lie to me, Merlei.”

Maybe it was best to use her real name. Maybe it would hit harder, strike deeper.

For a short while she was left all alone, as Seyda went out to check on Armian and Skadi. Unrestrained, with access to fire, to all the dangerous goods stored in those crates and sacks and boxes, without anyone watching. Seyda was only gone for a moment, but it could have been enough. But then again, Lily also could have used her magic. Created phantasms of the mind to tear at her captors. Could have, but hadn’t. It wasn’t left unnoticed.

When she came back again, Seyda had one of the gate guards follow her inside. Greg, grumpy and silent, a burly man with large hands and axes hanging from his belt, looked upon the girl and saw bruises, blood, and tears without reacting. When Seyda ordered him to search the prisoner, he nodded and approached with heavy steps. He reached down and grabbed her by the neck, pinned her down against the floor, face down. Lily squirmed and cried but there was no relief. The heavy man patted her down, felt along her sides and looked through her pockets. There were toffees, lollipops, and vials of powder.

Then, his hand went up under the skirt, feeling along Lily’s thighs. The reaction was instant. Feeling his touch, the girl let out a terrified scream and kicked back, managing to hit the man’s groin with her heel. It didn’t help, his grip only grew harder and his weight crashed down on her back, keeping her down.

Seyda told her not to fight. The girl begged her to make him stop.

The harsh hand continued its search, found the daggers strapped to her thighs under the skirt. He removed them carefully. Then she was flipped over onto her back, and he searched her front pockets as well. Finding crayons, and vials of poison. The hand continued up, searched her chest, but found no bra that secrets could have been hidden in. By then the girl lay motionless, limp as a ragdoll, retreating into her own mind.

To Seyda’s relief, Armian and Skadi were soon back. The strangers had been diverted, distracted by Skadi and kept from seeing what they should not see. As Greg went back to his post, Seyda ordered the prisoner restrained.

“Secure her with her hands above her head,” Seyda said. She gestured at the coils of rope lying on the floor, and at the rafters above their heads. Lily wasn’t the first to hang from those rafters. The frown on Armian’s face, the discomfort, made it too clear he knew how that could end.

The tall Skadi helped get the rope up over the rafter while Armian held the prisoner up and tied her wrists together. Despite any dislike of the situation he kept the knots tight, made sure there was no escape.

With the girl hanging from her wrists, bare feet on the floor, Seyda again sent the others out so that the two of them could be alone.

“You want both of us out?” Skadi asked, perhaps hoping that the boss meant only Armian, that maybe she could stay?

“Yes.”

They left, and the room turned quiet but for the crackling of the fire and the gentle sobs of the prisoner.

“Look at me.” Seyda said, finally stepping closer.

The girl lifted her gaze, tried to focus on the woman before her, but her eyes seemed almost hazy. The long night in restraints, the concussion, the fear, all was taking its toll.

“Actions have consequences. You know this.” Seyda laid a hand on Lily’s bruised cheek, a surprisingly gentle touch. New tears, more tears. Seyda wiped them away with her thumb, slowly and carefully.

“Tell me what you have done wrong.”

“I disobeyed you.” Lily’s voice was barely audible. “I argued against you. And then I attacked a company member.”

“And it is not the first time,” Seyda said with a slow nod. “It is not even the second time.”

The girl closed her eyes, grimacing and responding in a whisper. “It’s the third time.”

“Keep looking at me.”

“I can’t.”

“Look. At. Me.”

Lily could only open one eye, the other was too swollen. She looked at the older woman, the stern face and the green eyes.

“What happens to one who hurts my people, Lily?”

“They die.”

Seyda’s gaze was unwavering, her voice calm. “Do you want to die, Lily?”

“No.”

“Then why did you attack my people, repeatedly?”

It should be so very simple. Somehow it wasn’t.

“Because my head is broken,” the girl whispered, echoing Seyda’s words from before.

“Tell me about when it broke.”

Lily wasn’t sure when, she couldn’t answer. How could one point at a single instance and say here, this is where it went wrong?

“Tell me about when they took your eye.”

The questions were meant to hurt. They were meant to dig into old wounds and tear them open. Seyda made her tell what had happened, why it had happened. And Lily spoke, of her friend Loren, who had been taken. She spoke of Jaekal cutting her face open. She spoke of getting shot. She spoke of how they gouged her eye out.

“When did you get raped?”

The silence was palpable. The girl let her head drop forward, until the red curls hid her face.

“Speak.”

The was no response. The red hair swayed as the girl shook her head, back and forth, despite the concussion that would make the world spin. Back and forth. Seyda walked up to grab her by the hair and hold her still.

“Look at me.”

Only with the greatest effort did Lily manage to lift her gaze and meet Seyda’s demanding eyes.

“Actions have consequences,” Seyda repeated in a low whisper.

“Please just beat me instead,” Lily begged, words that finally made anger flash across the other woman’s face.

“That comes later.”

The girl’s head dropped forward again in defeat. In a moment’s silence, Seyda leaned in. Pressed her lips against the cold and sweaty forehead, in a featherlight kiss.

“But you are still mine,” she whispered.

Break, Seyda thought. Break and cry. Scream of pain and sorrow. Break into a thousand pieces. Break so you can be rebuilt.

Lily whispered in response.

“Thank you.”

 

Seyda and Lily
Painting by Merrigan, player behind Lily/Merlei

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