|Kore Asena (asena) wrote in thebattleage,|
@ 2011-07-03 01:37:00
|Entry tags:||! complete, (narrative), kore asena|
Narrative: Take Me, Break Me, Mold Me, Make Me
Who: Kore and Niko Asenos (NPC)
When: 2063 TE – 9:39 Dragon
Where: Asenoi Household, Minrathous
Rating: M for graphic description of violence
Summary: Kore's being prepared for the life of an assassin.
Training started as usual. She arrived, drained and drawn after a long hard day of work at her mistress’s side, to continue working long into the night. Master Asenos did not even look up as she entered, so she slipped over to the side table and picked the lock. He had installed a new one, this one harder than the last so it took her longer. Long enough to feel the weight of his glare against her back. Doubtless, he thought that she was going slowly just to spite him but the truth was that her fingers felt slow, clumsy and numb as she held the lockpick tools. She simply could not get a feel for the lock with them that way.
When the lock finally snapped open, she cast a blank look over her shoulder to her Master. He was looking down at the book before him, as if her struggles were not worth his notice. She had no illusions that her lapse would go unpunished. Inside the side table was a small chest. The lock on it was an old friend, so she barely had to think as her hands went through the familiar motions. Inside were her training clothes and gear. Every night she would don them and strap on her daggers and some light pieces of armor as needed. Then, at the end of the night, she would pack up her weapons and armor but leave the clothes out to be laundered. She had never seen them in the house laundry, but she was too tired and disinterested to wonder overlong how they were cleaned. It was enough to know that they were clean and repaired, sometimes even replaced.
She changed into them as quickly as her exhaustion would allow, not caring that her master was present. Kore was not allowed to have scruples about propriety. Thankfully, he had never shown any lascivious interest in her body before. It was something of a well-known secret below that his sexual interests swung the other direction, even though he was married. There was a reason why he and his wife slept in different rooms and had no children between them. Below, of course, meant among the slaves and few servants and guards, above always referred to the main members of the household. She had learned the lingo fairly early on. Before she became the lady’s personal slave, she was called a swinger. Swingers were those who had no specific jobs but filled in wherever they were ordered to. They were useful, able to pick up the slack whenever there was too much work or too few workers on any task or to fill in for sick slaves. There were no swingers since Kore had been promoted, and the other slaves were resentful.
Her training outfit was simple, wide trousers made of linen dyed a dark grey and a matching voluminous shirt with no sleeves that she tucked into the top of her trousers. Both allowed for a wide range of motion, although she had to wrap the bottoms of the trousers around her ankles to stop them from slapping around. She went barefoot, but strapped on bracers and reinforced half-fingered gloves. The gloves had been a concession only after a few too many cuts on her hand nearly kept her from working. Two knives strapped under her forearms, while her daggers were secured along her belt. The holders rested in the small of her back, and held the daggers horizontal with the grips each facing either direction and stuck out past her narrow hips. It was simple to reach back and grab them both in her hands.
But now was not time for weapons. The first part of the night was usually book learning. Although Kore could not read, and her master had never given her any indication that he wanted her to learn, he still read to her from several books and showed her diagrams and pictures. Tonight would be no different. She padded quietly over to him, until her shadow darkened the page that he was reading. A ready scowl furrowed his brow, as he reached out to grab her by the arm. At first, as always, she automatically flinched out to get out of his way before reason took over. She let him grab her by the upper arm, and drag her around to the other side of him. She stumbled once at the harsh jerk, but the adrenaline rush helped to clear her exhaustion numbed mind.
She caught her balance and stood at his side, staring down at the book he was reading. There were no pictures here, just incomprehensible shapes that twisted and twined at odd angles all over the page. They had a name: letters. They grouped together, leaving blank spots that almost formed pictures of their own; sometimes they lined up, one blank on top of another blank. Other times they were staggered down the page. She could not even begin to guess what the words said, but it was pretty in its abstract way. It never crossed her mind to even wish to be able to read. She knew her place. As a slave, and even before as a free elf, it was not her place to learn. She existed to serve.
Master stood and pulled the lantern around before plucking the book neatly off the desk. With the spine fitting snugly into the palm of his hand and the covers propped up by his splayed fingers, he started pacing. Kore watched him listlessly, knowing that he would start talking when he was ready to speak. She did not even think of sliding down into the empty seat beside her. It was not her place to be seated when he was standing. She did, however, rest her hand on the desk. The longer it was there, the more weight she put on it to ease the ache in her legs.
Her master was a tall man, so his long strides took him from one end of his bedroom to the other in several strides. His soft, buttery leather house shoes made the barest of sounds as he walked across the granite floor, inlayed with designs using many different shades of stained wood. His face ran through a gamut of expressions: annoyance, to irritation, frustration to menacing and then back to his usual collected look. His heavy brows danced as he moved from feeling to feeling. Once he paused, rifling through the book to find something before going back to his pacing. She did not wonder what was on his mind, only awaited his instruction.
Finally, he came to a sudden halt. She snapped to attention, not even knowing when she had started to drift off in a daze. He cast her a derisive look, “Stand up straight, slave.” He marched over and slapped the book down right where her hand would have been had she not snatched it back at the last second. He brought his hand up as if to strike her and but she did not cower. Instead, she stood as directed, shoulders level and thrown back, spine perfectly straight and legs together even though they shook underneath the large folds of her clothing. A dark look passed his face and then he lowered his hand and stepped away.
“The weakest points.” He said without preamble, his back turned to her as he flipped through the book again. “Tell me what little knowledge that your pitiful brain can remember about them.”
She cleared her throat and said, “They are the weakest points on the body, master. They-”
“Oh, are they really?” He cut her off with a wildly jeering tone, “I would never have guessed.”
“They-” She gathered herself, put off balance by his interjection, “They are the voice box, spine, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, diaphragm, temple and jugular.” She took a deep breath, “Sometimes, the back of the neck, sometimes the collarbone, sometimes other arteries like the-” She could not remember all the words, they had been strange to her tongue the first time she used them and now they fled from her. Her hands fisted in the excess fabric of her pant legs.
Her master gave her a very droll look that she knew was only a mask for his impatience. Stabbing one finger in the book, he read aloud, “The femoral artery, which runs down the legs, when severed, causes death. The branchial artery and the axillary artery, located in the upper arms and shoulders. When severed, ends in likely death.” He looked up over the book at her with a baleful expression, “Although slitting the wrists would work too.” She fought the need to squirm under his stare.
Finally, all he said was, “You should know this by now, you stupid elf.” She closed her eyes against his hatred and imagined herself as a stone. Something that could not fear, something that could not hurt, something that could not do anything wrong…or anything right. It took a long moment to collect herself, imagining herself pulled deep inside her body, compacted into the smallest space. She was safe there, deep within herself. What happened on the outside did not matter. It was not a completely new mantra, but never before had it come so easily to her. When she opened her eyes, they were dead inside and she met his gaze unflinchingly. He blinked in at her presumed effrontery, before his face fell into a contemplative expression.
Glancing down into his book again, he commanded her, “Name at least four methods of silent killing.” She answered in a monotone, feeling amazingly calm and detached from what she was doing, “An upward stab under the ribcage through the diaphragm and into the heart is the best. Without the diaphragm, they cannot speak. Cutting the voice box is next, although they might still be able to make other sounds. After that, nearly all other methods involve silencing the victim by force. It only takes a moment to scream and give away the attacker, even if the victim dies quickly. Putting a hand over their mouth and pinning the nose shut will leave bruises in the shape of a hand, but is the best way. Then, stabbing to the temple, heart, or kidneys and liver result in a quick death. Severing the spinal column in the upper chest or neck, and severing of any of the main arteries results in a slower death…”
He watched her with rapt attention. It nearly shook her out of her detached state of mind as she mentally shied away from his keen gaze. He looked at her as if she was one of the animals that he brought in for her to cut up, all laid out before him in neatly stacked piles of useless flesh. She knew she was not a person to him; she was not a person to herself anymore. She was just property, just a slave. A slave that he was teaching to kill. Contrary to what he might tell her, she was not a complete idiot. At first, he had entered the subject from an innocuous angle. She had learned to tie ropes, pick locks, then she had learned some herbs that happened to have nasty effects. He had taught her to defend herself, and later, to attack as well. He gave her knives to play with, and items to dice until she was proficient. Then he gave her daggers. He taught her about the bodies of humans, elves and dwarves, reading out of dusty old tomes that made her eyes water and her nose run. He had her practice, not on him of course, but on a stuffed doll the same size as a real man. By then, it was pretty obvious what he wanted.
She had not known how to feel about it. Of course, the thought of killing anyone filled her with fear and a small amount of loathing. On the other hand, she could not exactly say no, he would probably dispose of her. With no clear answer, just two unwanted end results, she was caught in an endless cycle of uncertainty. It wore her down to her very marrow in a way that the long endless hours of constant work could not. The lack of sleep, from being kept up a good portion of the night with her master before awakening early in the morning to tend to her mistress, kept her from thinking clearly on the matter. So…she did nothing. She went along. She took his harsh words and training and lessons that killed her a bit inside every time. She withstood the slapping hands and biting words of her mistress as the woman ridiculed her work day in and day out. Kore became her job, as she had nothing else in her life that mattered. She abided.
He tossed his head in a curious tilt, a look she had never seen on him before. “What is the proper method to slit a man’s throat?”
Before, the question would have made her squeamish, her lips going pale as her face scrunched up in disgust. Now, even though a small part of her revolted deep inside, outwardly she was impassive. “From behind, griping the head firmly, begin to cut while holding the head so that the artery is exposed. If cutting with the right hand, start on the left side of the neck and hold the head so that the left part of the neck is exposed. Begin cutting, moving the blade across the throat to the right, while forcing the head in the opposite direction to the cut. The blood-” it was here that she stumbled in her gruesome recitation for a moment, but caught herself, “will spread out in a wide arc.” She fought the urge to gag, “But the attacker will be mostly clean.” She maintained her impassive stare on her Master, even though she both wanted and did not want to close her eyes. She wished to close her eyes to the truth, but was afraid that a picture of what she had just described would play out like a play in one act before her mind’s eye.
“Come here.” He ordered with an odd note in his voice. She complied, walking forward on legs that seemed far more steady than she felt inside. He grabbed her face in his cupped hands as she approached, and she had to restrain a gasp from the unexpectedness of his actions. To some, it might look amorous, but she could feel the unrepentant pressure of his fingers splayed over her cheeks. His hands gripped her tightly, painfully, as if he had finally caught something that he had desired yet hated to want for so long and now would never let go. His dark eyes stared into her own, even as her view of him started to go fuzzy as her eyes watered at the pain. “Almost,” He whispered. Had she not been so close, she probably would have not heard him at all.
Just as quickly as he had grabbed her, so too did he shove her away. She fought for balance at the unexpected violence of his action, but failed and ended up on her back gasping for air. As she lay there, fighting for breath, her mind sluggishly computed his words. Almost what? Almost…almost. Her mind avoided implications with the ease of someone with a long history of denial. She crawled to her feet, shaken out of her odd detachment, but her master said no more on the subject. He continued on as if nothing had happened at all. Meanwhile, the thought that she avoided harried her the rest of the night.